Review : That Shakespeare Kid

I’ve been trying to get out of the time wasting habit of checking my newsfeeds everytime I’m bored and have my phone handy, and have started working my way through my kids’ Kindle books. I suppose I could read more interesting things, but really, instead of pulling them over to read what I like, what’s the harm in reading what they like?

Recently I read That Shakespeare Kid, by Mike LoMonico. I first spotted Mike’s project about a year ago when he ran a Kickstarter to get the book published. My oldest daughter was actually one of the pre-readers, which is where we got our copy.

It’s hard to “review” a book like this because it is for kids, written in a kid’s voice, and sounds just like you’d think a 13yr old girl trying to tell you a very long story would sound. But, like I said a year ago, I’m in it for the Shakespeare.

The gimmick is that Peter gets hit on the head with a Riverside Shakespeare and wakes up able to speak only in Shakespeare quotes. He can write and text things fine, and he can understand everybody around him, but when it comes to vocalizing anything, it always comes out in surprisingly relevant Shakespeare quotes. The gimmick is silly, of course, but who cares. It’s fun. I was a little more annoyed with the giant plothole where Peter has to bring his friend Emma with him everywhere because “he communicates by texting her.”  So, then, he couldn’t just text other people equally well?

But I digress. The question I originally asked my daughter was, “Does he just use all the same old Shakespeare cliches that you already knew?” The pleasantly surprising answer is no, he doesn’t. Well, he does, but not exclusively so. There’s a wide range of quotes, some large, some small, most you’ll recognize, some you may not. I was very pleased to discover at the end of the book that Mr. Lomonico deliberately chose quotes from all of Shakespeare’s works, and even lists which play each quote came from.

If you’re a Shakespeare fan and you’d like to slip some Shakespeare in on your kids who are around that age, it’s a good book. The plot is all the usual stuff – boy and girl “friends” find themselves cast in Romeo and Juliet, have stress over the kissing, blah blah blah. But that’s what kids that age expect. I didn’t need all the pseudo-texting jargon that he worked in during the whole “Peter can communicate by texting” plotline, but I suppose it would sound more natural to its intended audience.

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