A lifetime ago, before this blog existed and I was searching around for a place to hang out and talk about Shakespeare, I saw only one place – News on the Rialto, a Shakespeare magazine run by Michael LoMonico, who has got so many Shakespeare and education credits to his name that I don’t know how to list them all.
Well, Mike’s written a young adult novel called That Shakespeare Kid, and he’s got a Kickstarter going to get it published. You know me and you know my desire to get my kids introduced to Shakespeare as young as possible, so I’m all over a project like this. In fact, I got an early review copy and let my 11yr old have at it.
The plot surrounds Peter, a 12yr old boy who gets hit on the head with a Complete Works (Riverside, because I know the geeks will be curious), and wakes up only able to talk in snippets from Shakespeare. With the help of his friend Emma he manages to make his way through the regular middle school adventures until a viral video gets him onto the Today Show and he starts to wonder if he’ll be a freak forever. This being a young adult Shakespeare novel you just know that the two will find their way into Romeo and Juliet. Which if you think about it makes perfect sense because that’s the play that our young adult reader is most likely to be studying.
I’ve not yet read the book through, because I did not want to inadvertently influence my daughter’s opinion (by saying things like “What chapter are you on? Oh, I loved the part when he said….”) My daughter quite liked it. I asked whether the Shakespeare bits were all the usual stuff that she’s heard around the house a hundred times (Wherefore art thou, to be or not to be, double double, etc….) she said, “Oh, no, absolutely not. Most of it I’d never heard before.” Which is good!
In truth I’m an easy audience, and almost any project that has Shakespeare and kids in it is going to get an upvote from me. When you’ve got somebody with the credentials of Mike LoMonico and all the years he’s spent honing his craft with the resources of the Folger at his disposal, how can you go wrong?