Santa Brings Stories from Shakespeare

This year, Santa brought my kids a book called Stories from Shakespeare, by the Usborne company.  By strange coincidence, my wife had been to an Usborne bookselling party a few months prior :).  Anyway, we just started reading it the other night.  I like that my 5yr old asked if King Lear was in it.  Alas, it’s not.  She’s intrigued by the witches on the cover, which (ha!) I tell her are from Macbeth.  At first I was worried that this was just a copy of Lamb’s Tales (which is public domain) with a new copyright slapped on it.  Luckily that’s not the case, these appear to be new translations. The plays included are:  “Twelfth Night”, “Macbeth”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “The Taming of the Shrew”, “The Tempest”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Hamlet”, “The Merchant of Venice”, “As You Like It”, and “The Winter’s Tale”.  An interesting mix.  No King Lear, but also no Much Ado About Nothing.  But yet they include Taming of the Shrew. We started with Twelfth Night.  Since this book has pictures (and when I tell them the stories, I do not), both 3 and 5yr old were immediately intrigued.  Unfortunately that also means that I lost my 3yr old early, as she was so busy wanting to know the identify of every person on every page that she was not getting the story.  My 5yr old hung in as best she could, but I could tell she was confused.  Interestingly she perked up at the mentions of Sebastian and Antonio, two names she recognized from The Tempest :).  I think the level of mistaken identify was a little much for her.  These stories, unlike my own translations, seem like they’re trying to cover every aspect of the original script in as linear a translation as possible.  So, for instance, they did the whole subplot with Sir Toby, Andrew, Maria and Malvolio.  I think that, were I telling this one to my kids off the top of my head, I would have just left it completely out.  I know, I know, sacrilege – but I’d rather have her understand a portion of the story at this age than be confused and not get any of it. I think she wants Macbeth next, because of the witches, but I don’t plan on introducing that one until I’ve at least read their translation first.  I teased Midsummer’s to her, saying that it was about fairies.  5yr olds dig fairies. 🙂

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