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Shakespeare for Children (Unabridged Classics in Audio)

Shakespeare for Children - Mary Lamb, Mary Lamb, Josephine Bailey, Simon Vance I'm not so sure that this book is appropriately titled. Many of the adaptations in here are too far above the developmental level of what I consider to be "children," but they are probably perfectly appropriate for kids between 12 and oh, 14 or 15 years old. Kids edging into 14, 15, and certainly 16 years old should be receiving some exposure to [a:William Shakespeare|947|William Shakespeare|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1360741702p2/947.jpg]'s own writing, but I think that this book might help them understand the arc of some of Shakespeare's plays better.

Romeo and Juliet: Romeo and Juliet benefited from being adapted into a story in this book. It's not one of my favorite plays--it's too melodramatic and our main characters fall in love too hard too fast. I find it very unbelievable. In this format, though, the story becomes much more in the vein of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. It becomes a fairy tale love story, and head-over-heels, love-at-first-sight love is ok in those kind of stories. Because of the fairy tale like nature of this interpretation of the play, kids younger than 12 could probably understand this story if they have a suitably advanced vocabulary. The language is no longer Shakespearian, but the story is written with Victorian flourish and flare, which is still pretty formal.

The Tempest: I've never understood all the fuss about The Tempest, and this adaptation doesn't change my mind. I think kids under 12 would understand this story, I'm just not sure they'd find it to be that fascinating. It's a little bit of a boring story as told in this book, and it takes a lot to grab and hold kids' attention these days. I'm not sure this would do it.

Hamlet: Considerably well done adaptation. This story would appeal strongly to boys, I would imagine (that's not say that girls won't also like it), and unlike Shakespeare's play, this adaptation is easy to understand. Kids under 12 would understand this story just fine. Of course, there is the question of whether or not this is an appropriate story for kids under 12, but that's for parents to decide.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: It is what it was meant to be; a fairy tale. I suppose if the kid in question likes fairy tales, then he or she might enjoy A Midsummer Night's Dream. The kids in my life wouldn't latch on to this, however, because the love interests do get a little tangled up. Kids under 12 might find this to be a bit confusing.

King Lear: I think this is much too advanced for kids under 13 or so. Young kids just aren't at a developmental point in their lives to be able to appreciate the emotions/machinations/motivations in King Lear. Young kids are still too self-absorbed (in the developmental sense, not the ego sense) to be able to really appreciate this story to the fullest extent possible. I'm fairly sure it would sail over their heads. I think this is a play/story best served when a kid can think more outwardly than inwardly.

The Taming of the Shrew: Pretty much my favorite Shakespeare play, but this story is not well-served in this retelling. Kate's "shrewishness" is glossed over in this story, and the tug-of-war between Kate and Petruchio is virtually non-existent. Without the tug-of-war and battle-of-the-wills, Petruchio's behavior is out of context, and he comes across as plainly abusive. We don't see Kate getting a taste of her own medicine, we see her being demeaned and abused. I'd not read this version of the story to girls, and certainly not to boys, and I don't even think this version is appropriate for teenagers, who are often struggling with gender roles and identity.

Macbeth: Another adaptation that's probably too complex for younger kids. The language in this one is very Victorian again, and if that could be modernized a bit, then I think kids under 12 could understand the story here, I just don't think they'd understand the depth of it. For an excellent adaptation of the play, teens and adults should take a look at [b:Macbeth|12208336|Macbeth|A.J. Hartley|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1360773630s/12208336.jpg|16849204] by [a:A.J. Hartley|270624|A.J. Hartley|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1311026941p2/270624.jpg] and [a:David Hewson|21678|David Hewson|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1302449201p2/21678.jpg]. That was gooood....

Much Ado About Nothing: Early teens (girls in particular?) may like this adaptation, and may even identify with it. It's full of fix-ups and broken hearts, reconciliations, and gossip... Loaded with teen angst. Kids under 11 or 12 would probably be bored with this one, and kids past 14 would probably think it's as silly as I do. Not one of my favorite Shakespeare stories, can you tell?

Othello: Well, the opening sentences of this adaptation instruct readers (who the authors expected to be mostly female, as stated in their introduction) that they can admire Desdemona for choosing a black man, but she should not be imitated. There is much focus in this adaptation as to why Othello is not suitable for a white woman--in fact, I think these authors obsessed over Othello's color more than Shakespeare did. This made me uncomfortable, and I don't think I'd want to read this adaptation to kids. Victorian attitudes are too present in this tale, and I think they were more degrading than the original was. As far as the story itself goes, Iago's plotting and duplicity are too muted, so it's hard to really get in there and see how artfully he poisoned Othello against Desdemona. The end is still heartbreaking, but kids over 14 or so should try reading the original Shakespeare to really feel this play. I'm not sure that this story is appropriate for younger kids, but again, that's a parent's call.

Twelfth Night: Maybe I'm shallow, but this play is so ridiculous and annoying, and this adaptation doesn't help it at all. I can just hear my niece saying something like, "What?! She can't tell that Viola's a lady?!" Or, "He actually married her?!? He just met her like five seconds ago!" My point is, kids today are way too savvy to accept the kind of shenanigans that go on in this story. And I, for one, am glad they are.