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The Usborne World of Shakespeare: With Over…
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The Usborne World of Shakespeare: With Over 50 Internet Links

by Anna Claybourne

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The World of Shakespeare by Anna Claybourne. Age: teen-adult. Library section: 12 E: Teen, Nonfiction. While not a religious book, I included this book in our library for teens who usually meet up with the study of at least one play by the great bard of Avon in high school. This book with exciting illustrations and photos covers Shakespeare’s family history, Elizabethan beliefs, London life of that era, Elizabethan theater, the Globe theater, and Shakespeare’s plays – the tragedies, comedies, “problem” plays, histories, and romances. It discusses Shakespearean language, Shakespeare plays through the ages, acting and directing styles, performing Shakespeare, costumes and how they are made, and short synopses of many Shakespearean plays. The book is chock full of drawings – schematics of the Globe, for example, old prints, time lines, as well as photos of modern day actors in costume and make-up such as Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, and John Gielgud. At the end there is a glossary of Shakespeare characters. This book is chock full of very interesting information.
If there is one thing that will prepare our teens for college and life in general, it is to read as much Shakespeare as possible because so many college literary discussions assume they have read at least five or six of Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare is also important because it presents so many life situations in which characters are forced to make choices for good or ill. The results of those choices – comic or tragic – are what make Shakespeare so important and so relevant, even today. Some of his plays are bawdy, merry romps while others probe the deepest depths of the human psyche. Greed, murder, humor, sentimentality, love, ghosts, poisonings, suicide, scheming – they’re all here. There are many film versions to spur our interest, too, from Mel Gibson’s Hamlet, Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, and Taylor-Burton’s The Taming of the Shrew, to Shakespeare Broadway spin-offs like Kiss Me, Kate and West Side Story, and the opera Otello.
Shakespeare (b. 1564) still lives through his plays today. That can’t really be said about many other people born in the Elizabethan era except for perhaps, Martin Luther, who was born even earlier in 1483. Both men’s work changed the world in profound ways.
This book has spurred me to read some more Shakespeare. I think his plays resonate with us as we get older – they seem to become easier to read and ponder, even without Cliff’s Notes! Their themes are universal which is why they are so appealing. If you have the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play performance, do go see it. If you are in London be sure to visit the rebuilt Globe Theater. My kids say it is awesome. It’s on my “bucket list” – something I want to do before I kick the bucket. ( )
  Epiphany-OviedoELCA | Aug 26, 2011 |
Lively, entertaining, well-researched compendium of Shakespeare's work, with detailed illustrations and great photos of stage performances. Great present for a youngster interested in exploring the world of the Bard.

Read the Full Review here: http://www.epinions.com/content_261037002372 ( )
  jc_hall | Mar 7, 2007 |
Nice resource/introduction to Shakespeare for ages 9-12, but enjoyable for adults, as well, covering the time period, what it was like to put on a play then, bits of information about each type of play he wrote, and at the back, a short plot synopsis for each. ( )
  bibliosylph | Aug 22, 2006 |
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Shakespeare's tales are explored and explained as well as discussing how he lived, what tricks of the trade he used, and how his works have been performed, interpreted and adapted.

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