Review: Shakespeare Retold

Author E. Nesbit
Publisher: Harper
Published: October 18, 2016
Hardcover, 128 pages
ISBN: 9780062404534
Genre: Children's Fiction
Source: Publisher


A beautifully illustrated collection of prose retellings of seven Shakespeare plays will bring the Bard to life for young readers. Not only is this a beautiful keepsake edition, full of gorgeous illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo, but the prose retellings by beloved classic children’s book author E. Nesbit are an excellent tool to introduce children to the complex language of Shakespeare.

A foreword by John Lithgow touches on his own childhood as a Shakespearean actor and the importance of Shakespeare. The book contains extensive support materials, including a biography, a timeline of Shakespeare’s life, and further recommended readings.

In this volume, you will find:

Romeo and Juliet
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Twelfth Night
The Tempest
Much Ado About Nothing

My Thoughts

After a day of visiting Shakespeare's house E. Nesbit took great joy in telling her children all about The Bard. As they were looking over a book of his famous plays, the children quickly became disillusioned after reading a few pages. The children had a hard time understanding the words that Shakespeare used. So, in an effort to help the children understand, she told the story of A Midsummer's Night's Dream in her own words, After she had finished telling the tale, the children were delighted. They encouraged Nesbit to write the story in her own words so that they might understand them better. And she did. Which is why we have the wonderful book: Shakespeare Retold.

I read this book to my children when they were younger. Not this edition, of course, but I wish it had been. This beautiful book has a forward from John Lithgow. He talks about his history with Shakespeare. He spent his summers around an outdoor festival where his father would produce Shakespeare's plays. The plays became the story of his childhood and no doubt influenced his desire to be an actor. In addition to John Lithgow's introduction, this book is also illustrated by the illustrious Antonio Javier Caparo, who has lent his talents to many other children's books. His illustrations make a wonderful addition to this book.

E. Nesbit has written many wonderful books for children. My favorite is The Railway Children. I can't imagine someone other than E. Nesbit writing these stories. She does a fantastic job making these plays accessible to the young. She writes in a plain, easy-to-understand style that children will understand. This book includes: Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, and Much Ado About Nothing. This book will expose children to Shakespeare's timeless plays and hopefully foster a lifelong love for The Bard. Shakespeare Retold is a treasure!