Using a carefully edited text and a unique cartoon-strip format to link important passages, the Shakespeare Graphics series brings to life Shakespeare's most popular plays, making them accessible to students of all abilities.
Philip Page is an experienced author and illustrator of History books as well as having written for Livewire Myths and Legends. He is now retired but was previously a Deputy Head Teacher at Hamstead Hall School, where he taught English and History. Marilyn Pettit has recently been appointed as the Senior English Advisor for Somwell Authority. She was previously the Head of English Communications at Hamstead Hall School.
Gr 7 Up-Each book includes a brief introduction to the play, followed by an illustrated cast of characters and a glossary of literary terms. Annotated text from the play alternates with black-and-white illustrations of selected scenes, "in the style of a graphic novel." It is unclear why the editors did not make these true graphic novels throughout. The black-and-white comic art is undistinguished, and as most of it simply depicts two characters in conversation, it does little to clarify what is going on. The first two plays in particular offer marvelous possibilities for the illustrator, so the ho-hum comics are disappointing. "Think about it" boxes contain study questions such as, "What has worried Macbeth?" and boxed "Literary terms" give examples like, "`Hermia...Hermia...Helena...' is...alliteration." Teacher's guides accompany the books. Those interested in a graphic-novel interpretation might want to consider Arthur Byron Cover's Macbeth (Puffin, 2005), which is illustrated in manga style and would probably appeal more to reluctant readers. These titles might be useful for teaching Shakespeare to reluctant readers, but a better choice might be a simple annotated Shakespeare such as a Sparknotes "No Fear Shakespeare" series (Spark), supplemented by Bruce Coville's William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1999) and William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (2003, both Penguin), which are picture-book prose adaptations, or Adam McKeown's Romeo and Juliet: Young Reader's Shakespeare (Sterling, 2004).-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
This series of resources for lower ability pupils preparing for Key Stage 3 is an original and engaging approach to the plays of Shakespeare. The pupil books all provide a secure summary of the play, through the use of clearly drawn cartoons and some key scenes and speeches which are printed in full... the authors have avoided being both condescending and boring by using the original text throughout and asking probing, open-ended questions which help to direct pupil responses. -- Ink Pellet 20070110