Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stories from Shakespeare for Children by Alice Hoffman

Longtime reader and contributor catkins sent me something wonderful that I'm only just now able to fully sit and appreciate.

The task of retelling Shakespeare's stories for children has been undertaken many times, perhaps most famously Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. Personally I never loved that one because I went straight for The Tempest and did not enjoy how they edited it.

Well, catkins clearly knows this about me because he sent me Alice Hoffman's 1904 version!

The pictures fascinate me.  I'm always on the search for public domain Shakespeare images, so I've seen many of the ones included here. Does that mean these are the originals? I haven't figured that out yet.

But happy birthday to me, because there's images I've never seen! A number of the characters get this sort of head shot, as I've included here for Prospero, which I think is a neat touch for a children's book as you introduce the characters.

I actually own a version of The Tempest illustrated by children, where the images change on every page. That is, Caliban does not look the same on page 3 as he does on page 5, and so on. This made it impossible to read this book aloud to school children, I found out the hard way, as they kept saying, "Who is that? Wait, I thought caliban was green and slimy? That guy is red and fiery."

I have not read this one all the way through yet, but I'm looking forward to it. As long time readers know, I've always thought of The Tempest as my own personal benchmark for Shakespeare, because it is the play I first introduced to my children. Looking forward to adding this one to the collection.

1 comment:

catkins said...

She wrote stories for 12 of the plays. I read only a few and found the quality of the story-telling somewhat varied, but always in some ways admirable. I was absolutely charmed by her version of Julius Caesar. The illustrators differed from volume to volume, as well. I am so glad you posted this as I had quite forgotten I had found the link to the collection. I must go back and read them all!