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The Tempest (No Fear Shakespeare)
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Gr 3 Up‘The play is set circa 1610. Spirin expands Beneduce's retelling by basing his lavish watercolors on Italian Renaissance paintings. Though the pages are carefully framed, highly ornate, and formally structured, there is plenty of leeway for individual imagination to make itself felt. Ariel is a decorative Renaissance angel. Caliban is given piscine characteristics and expressions that evoke the longing as much as the brutishness in his character. And the human characters have the complexity of portraits. Spirin's illustrations highlight the fantastic while Ruth Sanderson's landscapes for Bruce Coville's version of the play (Doubleday, 1994) focus on the effects of nature. Both are valid. Coville's simpler retelling is easier to follow. Beneduce, too, eliminates some of the subplots in order to avoid confusion, but her fuller text manages to incorporate most of the romantic, magical, and political elements. Within the main text, she modernizes the dialogue. This works smoothly for the most part, though it's hard to see how "What a wonderful new world I am about to enter..." is an improvement over "O brave new world..." A few passages of original text are set off in isolated frames, for a sense of the poetry. Readers and potential playgoers will need to see the play performed to experience the comic scenes of Caliban and his cronies. Brief appendixes explain the context in which the play was written and the reteller's choices and give an overview of Shakespeare's life. This is a case in which an acceptably graceful text plays a supporting role to the illustrations. They are worth the price of admission.‘Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL

Two of the bard's heavy dramas join Yale's wonderful "Annotated Shakespeare" series. Along with a heavily annotated text, each volume includes a scholarly introduction plus notes on the annotations. All that for the price of a Happy Meal; how can you go wrong? Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Prospero-like in their artistry, Spirin's dazzling watercolors dominate this retelling of Shakespeare's final play. Shaped like altar panels fit for a Renaissance church or palace, the illustrations are romantic, regal and magical, richly interpreting the play's themes of betrayal, revenge and all-conquering love. A wispy ethereal air pervades island scenes, beautifully suggesting the atmosphere of enchantment, while Antonio and the King of Naples are pictured in brocade and velvet, the stench of power upon them. The other characters, too, are both otherworldly and very much flesh and blood. Especially well rendered is the monster Caliban, shown here as part man, part beast, part mythical creature, a sense of evil glee lighting his features. While this prose adaptation does not, of course, retain the full magic of the Bard's work, Beneduce nonetheless provides an intelligent, gripping story. Several passages from Shakespeare introduced at key points give a taste of the original. Symbols and small pictures integrated into the text further enhance the lavish presentation. All ages. (Mar.)

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