21 December 2011

21 December 2011–Romeo & Juliet


Image Courtesy Stone Arch Books

Written by: William Shakespeare; Retold by: Martin Powell, Illustrated by: Eva Cabrera
Stone Arch Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4342-3448-3 (paperback)
$6.95 Ages: 10 - 14
Shakespeare’s classic tale of two star-crossed lovers in adapted to graphic novel format for younger readers. Two feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets have been fighting each other for who knows how long, over slights long forgotten to history. When the only son of Montague and the only daughter of Capulet fall in love, will their devotion to each other be able to transcend their families bloody war?
Shakespeare has long been considered a staple of Western Literature, and with good reason. With 38 plays, 154 sonnets, universal stories that transcend time, and controversies that continue to circle around him to this day, it’s not that hard to understand why he is so popular. However, most kids find him incredibly dull and boring, mostly due to the insistence of most publishers to stick to the original wording used in the 1600s. Powell wisely updates the language to modern English and keeps the story moving at a brisk pace – not too fast you can’t get attached to the characters, but not so slow as to make you fall asleep either. As the story sticks to the original ending, be forewarned you may have some unhappy or emotional readers at tales end.
Final Thoughts
I’ve always liked Shakespeare, and this new adaptation is one of the better ones I’ve seen over the years. While not as in depth as some readings, I feel that it strikes a nice balance between the crux of the story and keeping the target audience enthralled to the last pages of the book. Cabrera does a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life, showing both the delight as well as heartache between the characters in ways that text struggles to convey. This is a definite recommend for an introduction to Shakespeare in middle school classes (Stone Arch also currently covers Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and for parents who would like to introduce their kids to the classics, you could do much, much worse than this.

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