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Perhaps the best-known of Shakespeare's tragedies, Hamlet has all the ingredients for a gripping story: revenge and power, familial love and betrayal, dramatic sword fights, dark spooky scenes. Once again Lois Burdett has woven her own brand of magic by transforming Shakespeare's complex verse into rhyming couplets. She has created a version of Hamlet especially for children, even as young as seven, and one that readers of all ages will enjoy.
At the appropriately named Hamlet Elementary School in Stratford, Ontario, where Burdett has taught for over 20 years, her students have created wonderful drawings of Hamlet to illustrate Burdett's fluid rhymes. The students' interpretations are vivid evidence of Burdett's clever ability to bring Shakespeare's complex characters and intricate plots to life for young people.
Lois Burdett is in great demand throughout North America and Europe for her workshops where she instructs educators how to familiarize young children with Shakespeare. Among other commendations, Lois Burdett has received Encyclopedia Britannica's National Award for Early Childhood Education , Canada's Meritorious Service Medal , the Canadian Teachers' Federation's Hilroy Fellowship , and two writers' awards. Burdett's many speaking engagements have included the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Her books, magazine articles, presentations and media interviews are testimony to her strong influence in the education community, where she has also been instrumental in helping teachers to incorporate Shakespeare into early grade curricula.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 2-4-This seventh series entry retells the story in rhymed couplets with illustrations by the author's students, ages 7 to 12. The style is lively and interesting, and some of the phrasing is humorous: "Meanwhile, King Claudius was still uptight./The cause of Hamlet's madness had not come to light." The fact that stage directions and speakers' names are included within the verses poses some difficulty when acting out the play. A very perceptive narrator would be needed to make it all come out just right. Boxed insets of children's rewritten segments of the play as letters or diary entries offer interesting insights into their perception of the characters. Since the colorful drawings represent the characters in a wide variety of styles, they lack a sense of unity. Activities are presented at the end of the book to extend the experience. This is a good source of ideas for teachers who want to use Shakespeare in their elementary classrooms. Leon Garfield's Shakespeare Stories (Houghton, 1991) is still the best retelling, but school libraries could make good use of this book.-Carol Durusau, Newton County Public Library, Covington, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Now the two stood together, royal Father and his son. "Mark me!" the ghost shuddered, "My hour is almost come. I am thy father's spirit doomed to walk the night. At dawn, I render up myself and disappear from sight." The mournful voice resounded from above, "If thou didst ever thy dear father love, Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder!" he cried. "Murder?" Hamlet trembled, and looked horrified. The very word hammered in his brain. "Murder most foul!" the spirit bellowed again. "Tis said," the ghost moaned, "that a serpent bit me. And I died in my orchard, in tranquillity. Indeed, a serpent did sting thy father's life. But it now wears his crown, and has married his wife." "Oh, my prophetic soul!" cried Hamlet, "Can this be true?" "Aye!" moaned the spirit, "The facts I will review. As I slept peacefully on that fateful day, Your uncle crept towards me, like a beast of prey. A poisonous liquid, he poured into my ear. Then he slunk away, with a laughing sneer. It was a moment I could never have foressen. My brother snatched my life, my crown, and my Queen. Bear it not, my son! Set my tortured spirit free! Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me!" Excerpted from Hamlet for Kids by Lois Burdett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.