The Merchant Of Venice (Shakespeare Stories) by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross
|The Merchant Of Venice (Shakespeare Stories) by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath|
|Summary: A superb retelling of Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice. It's perfectly pitched at its young audience and serves as a wonderful introduction to the Bard. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 64||Date: April 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
Bassanio's got the hots for Portia, and she for him. His friend, Antonio, borrows money from Shylock so Bassanio can woo her. Antonio is usually well-off, but all his money is tied up with his ships at the moment. Due to past rivalries, Shylock demands that Antonio pay him back with a pound of flesh if he can't come up with the money. Meanwhile, Portia is putting various suitors to the test. As someone wise once said elsewhere, the course of true love never did run smooth.
This is - as if you can't guess - William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice retold for younger readers. And jolly good it is too. It's appropriately pared down and plot-heavy. It's made suitable for its audience, rather than dumbed down. Shylock's famous speech, for example, becomes:
Remember that Jews are just as human as you. If you cut us, we bleed, if you poison us, we die - and if you insult us, we will have our revenge.
It serves as a perfect introduction to the Bard for its young audience. In fact, it's so well written that you could read it to brighter infant school kids. Once they come to full-blown Shakespeare later on, they'll have a good grounding in it and won't blanch at the unfamiliar language.
Tony Ross' illustrations keep the energy up and have a great pen and ink style that draws you in. There's also a brief explanation of the play at the end, and some information about how it was performed at the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare's day. They're a nice bonus on top that increases people's understanding. The book is great without them, but they're a nice cherry on top.
Other Shakespeare Stories in the series include Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Othello, Richard III, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Henry V, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Twelfth Night and a box-set of all of them. They'd make a fantastic addition to any child's bookshelf, and although at first glance might seem a little worthy, they'd actually make for a super present too. Highly recommended.
Huge thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.
We also loved The Beasts in the Jar (Greek Beasts and Heroes) by Lucy Coats and Anthony Lewis, which are the Greek myths retold for younger readers. For other takes on Shakespeare, check out King Lear by Gareth Hinds, The Shakespeare Handbook by Michael Schmidt and Robert Maslen and Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Merchant Of Venice (Shakespeare Stories) by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Merchant Of Venice (Shakespeare Stories) by Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross at Amazon.com.
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