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William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. To mark the 400 Anniversary of his death we have selected a number of books to help your children discover more about the life and works of the greatest playwright of all time.
An illustrious and detailed look into the inventive and wonderful world of William Shakespeare. With lots of flaps, children can discover more about the world's most famous playwright and poet within this colourful book. Explore Shakespeare's London, the famous Globe theatre, his plays, poems and of course the new words and language that we still use to this very day.
Of the many tributes to Shakespeare in this anniversary year, To Wee or Not to Wee must be the zaniest. It features retellings of four favourite Shakespeare plays with a definite focus on the action and character motivation. The twist however is that this is Shakespeare through the eyes of Izzy, star of the Baby Aliens series, so her retelling of Hamlet is prompted by Zach’s inability to decide between the hat and the car in Monopoly. Her version is certainly to the point: ‘As soon as the gravediggers said that Hamlet screamed “I knew him, Horatio”, and jumped RIGHT into the grave and began SPEAKING to the skull and asking it loads of questions, like “What should I do about EVERYTHING?” and just “Why?”’. For all the silliness, it gets across the main themes of the plays, and Izzy’s top-speed accounts are irresistible. ~ Andrea Reece The Editor says: “Who better to introduce children to Shakespeare than Pamela Butchart? If anyone can see the role of lasagne in Hamlet, or how annoying it must be for Lady Macbeth to have to lay on anunexpected buffet for Duncan, she can. The perfect introduction to the Bard, with all the suspense,heroics and Italian food of the originals.”
This is a great, fun way to introduce William Shakespeare to younger children. With interesting bite-sized pieces of information on a variety of aspects of Shakespeare's life including the Globe Theatre and what London was like during the Elizabethean age, and pages on his most famous plays all ready to be brought to life by the 500 colourful stickers in this humorous activity book.
I was once lucky enough to see the late – and great actor Michael Bryant play Iago,his command of the text such that the whole play came alight - a reminder of how, without such brilliance, Shakespeare can be frustrating and boring for modern day audiences. 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare death and in place of such magical acting Geoff Spiteri enlightens us on Shakespearian language and euphemism, the construct of the plays,the plots and the characters. This short volume emphasises Shakespeare's humour and rudery, reminding us of his influence on our language with his words, magic and poetry. Geoff Spiteri's opening words are Does Shakespeare matter? Any doubts will be scattered by A Smidgeon of Shakespeare. ~ Sue BakerLike for Like Reading. A Little Bit of Shakespeare Wit by Edward Green. The Shakespeare Book
Shortlisted for the English Picture Book Award 2016 | Mick Manning and Brita Granström have developed a picture book approach to non-fiction that brings their subjects to vivid life. Beautifully illustrated throughout in coloured pencil and watercolour and with pen and ink for the hand lettering, this is beautiful to look at and packed with information. There is lots on Shakespeare’s childhood – stories of the famous as children always catch the imagination of young readers – and the book provides a very clear impression of Tudor life. It explains the ‘lost years’, when no-one really knows what Shakespeare was up to, and cleverly puts the plays in the context of Shakespeare’s life and times. There are retellings in a sort of comic-strip of some of the most important plays – Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet – while comic-strip style speech bubbles throughout let readers hear Shakespeare’s words and world. Children can read this book in so many different ways, and Simon Callow, quoted on the cover, is right when he says this is a perfect introduction to the real Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s writing was extraordinary four hundred years ago, and it’s still extraordinary today says Michael Rosen in this splendid and inspiring introduction to the bard. Rosen demonstrates to young people just why Shakespeare is still acted, read and quoted today and how his work still shapes our language and culture. His enthusiasm is irresistible. Taking examples from Romeo and Juliet he shows how relevant the play still is to young people and explains – clearly and succinctly – how the action, characters and dramatic tension still affect modern audiences. There’s also fascinating information about Shakespeare’s life, times and schooling and about the first Globe Theatre, and this is one of the very best books to introduce children to Shakespeare. ~ Andrea Reece
Charles and Mary Lamb’s retellings of twenty of Shakespeare’s tales are rich with humour and telling imagery; and the authors reflect much of Shakespeare’s insight into the human condition. The language they use is striking and memorable, and there are lots of direct quotations too making these stories particularly good for reading aloud. Indeed, reading or listening to the appropriate tale before going to see a production of one of the plays would be an ideal way to give children a grip on the plot. This edition comes with a fascinating introduction by Judi Dench, whose passion for these retellings should certainly catch young readers’ attention: ‘you will find heroes and villains, heroines and deceivers, kings, queens, fairies and magic – the same ingredients that all the very best stories are made of.’ Indeed! ~ Andrea Reece
As the nation prepares to celebrate Shakespeare, 400 years on from his death, this book looks at the man behind the plays using original documents and historical artefacts. Items reproduced include the entry in the parish register that records Shakespeare's birth on 26 April 1564, a document from 1552 fining his father John Shakespeare for making a refuse heap in the street (he was a glove-maker and may have been using waste to soften the leather) and part of the first printed edition of Hamlet in 1603. There is also the famous page from Shakespeare’s will leaving his wife Anne his second best bed, and an explanation as to why he might have done that! With contemporary paintings and drawings plus photographs of statues and buildings it’s attractive to look at and full of fascinating insight. ~ Andrea Reece
An illustrated guide to the life and times of William Shakespeare. Readers can discover his famous plays, see where he lived and worked and find out why he is one of the world's greatest writers. With index and contents pages for easy study, and Usborne Quicklinks to specially selected websites with video clips from plays and more information.
2016 is another big year for Shakespeare and The Wallbook Timeline of Shakespeare will give readers (of all ages) special insight into all his 38 plays, as well as into the man and his time. A colourful 2 metre long wall chart illustrated with intriguing picture scenes lays out the plays in chronological order, providing a plot summary and introduction to the main characters, and highlighting key quotes. In What On Earth? style a timeline across the bottom tells us what was happening in Shakespeare’s world – political and personal – as his plays were performed. Extra material includes 30 different newspaper-style reports on different aspects of the Bard. Typically of this innovative, inspiring series it will catch young people’s interest and encourage them to discover even more about our greatest playwright. ~ Andrea Reece The wallbooks are an amazing feat of publishing. The What on Earth? Wallbook of Shakespeare is a unique introduction to all thirty-eight histories, comedies and tragedies by William Shakespeare on a timeline set in the iconic Globe Theatre. On the reverse, a newspaper-style narrative reviews all the most significant moments in the legacy of William Shakespeare from his death to the present day. In addition to the Wallbook, The Timeline of Shakespeare also includes a Chronicle which features more than 30 newspaper stories and a quiz.
The Shakespeare Timeline Wallbook will give readers (of all ages) special insight into all the 38 plays, as well as into the man and his time. A colourful 2 metre long wall chart illustrated with intriguing picture scenes lays out the plays in chronological order, providing a plot summary and introduction to the main characters, and highlighting key quotes. In What On Earth? style a timeline across the bottom tells us what was happening in Shakespeare’s world – political and personal – as his plays were performed. Extra material includes 30 different newspaper-style reports on different aspects of the Bard. Typically of this innovative, inspiring series it will catch young people’s interest and encourage them to discover even more about our greatest playwright. ~ Andrea Reece The wallbooks are an amazing feat of publishing. The Shakespeare Timeline Wallbook is a unique introduction to all thirty-eight histories, comedies and tragedies by William Shakespeare on a timeline set in the iconic Globe Theatre. On the reverse, a newspaper-style narrative reviews all the most significant moments in the legacy of William Shakespeare from his death to the present day. In addition to the Wallbook, The Shakespeare Timeline also includes a Chronicle which features more than 30 newspaper stories and a quiz.
Marcia Williams’s charming retellings of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays are made even more accessible and entertaining by her own distinctive and detailed illustrations. She features fourteen of the plays, a mix of comedy, tragedy and history, telling them with wit and insight, and often using direct quotation. Each page features three or more colour illustrations of characters and scenes, and even, for the introduction, the audience. Jewel-bright there are dramatic scenes - Hamlet confronting the ghost of his father for example, or the shipwreck that strands Viola and Sebastian at the beginning of Twelfth Night – as well as close-ups on characters, both heroes and attendant lords. It all makes this one of the most inviting and attractive introductions to Shakespeare’s plays for young children. ~ Andrea Reece
This a lovely hardback with ten of Shakespeare's more well known plays retold especially for younger children to enjoy. Each page is illustrated in Usborne's trademark style, with Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night's Dream all brought to life in fun and lively drawings with extra things to spot on every page.
We know little about the early life of William Shakespeare, but do know that at 18 he married Anne Hathaway and had three children, Susanna and then twins Hamnet and Judith. His son, Hamnet died in childhood.
By 1592 he had moved to London and was working as an actor and playwright, and part of an acting company which later became known as the King's Men. This company had interests in the Globe Theatre on the Southbank and the Blackfriars indoor theatre, and by 1594 Shakespeare's playwrighting began in earnest. He was a prolific writer, producing around two plays a year, he prospered and his reputation grew.
His early plays were mostly histories and comedies - Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry VI, The Taming of the Shrew, Richard III amongst others. By early 1600 he was writing some of his greatest tragedies such as Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear.
Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life living in New Place in Stratford and died on 23 April 1616 at the age of 52. He was buried two days later in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford and is also commemorated in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.
Known as the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare is widely accepted to have been the greatest playwright of all time and his poems and plays are studied and performed all over the world.
To mark the anniversary there are numerous events including :
The Complete Walk with The Globe Theatre : A walk along the Thames celebrating scenes from Shakespeare's plays.
Shakespeare400 : A rich variety of exhibitions and talks on theatre, manuscripts, archaeology and artifacts from Shakespeare's world.
And performances across the capital and beyond at The Globe, Barbican and Royal Festival Hall - find out more here.
Check out the latest activities in our KidsZone.