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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Never Too Early for the Bard of Avon!

It would be a terrible injustice to Sir William Shakespeare to not mention his birthday and how his works still influence authors today. Again and again, Shakespeare’s works are studied, referenced, updated and performed in schools, parks and professional theatre. One might think he’d get old and boring by now but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Why? In his own unique way he has crafted memorable characters who portray the human condition so well that if you were to change the clothes, hairstyles and the way they talk, they’d fit in well in the modern world. Let’s face it, jealousy, love, hate, betrayal are still present and as humans, we haven’t found any new twists that make us much different than our ancestors. Authors today still find inspiration from Will’s work. Sometimes the inspiration is right on the mark and other times not so much. However, there are gems out there that can not be missed. Would it be surprising to know that there are some very good children’s books based on the Witty Bard’s work?

It would seem a bit premature to introduce little one’s to William Shakespeare but when you think about it, wasn’t it a few years ago when it was believed that playing classical music to the child in the womb would have a profound effect on the child’s intellect? Introducing a child to Shakespeare at a young age should not be anything out of the ordinary. Instead, we should delight in the fact that they could learn a few of the classic lines, like “To be or not to be!” or “Romeo, Romeo where for art thou?” A little much? Perhaps no words need to be spoken or read at all. The Boy, The Bear, The Baron , The Bard is a delightful romp through Shakespeare’s world told in pictures. Imagine a young boy stumbling upon an old theater and begins to try on the costumes that look very similar to the ones an actor in a Shakespeare play would wear. He steps through the curtains to go on stage not realizing that he has stepped into a time machine that lands him on stage during one of the Bard’s performance. Gregory Roger’s illustrations of old England and the Globe Theater is a treat for the young and old. No words were needed to narrate the story because the illustrations draws the reader into each panel. Thankfully Rogers decided to do a second title Midsummer’s Knight which is as enchanting as the first.

Of course there are many other ways of introducing Shakespeare to the very young. There are finger puppets of the various characters in Shakespeare's plays. Again, it may seem to be going a bit overboard. However, in defense of all those who love the Bard, it is very difficult to contain the enthusiasm for great works of literature. As the Bard would say himself “Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known?”. Is it really too early to share something that is a treasure? Of course not! It would seem that authors like Mr. Rogers would agree!
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