Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo . . . until the gates shut at night. That’s when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare’s greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they’ve got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.
Ian Lendler’s hilarious tale of after-hours animal stagecraft is perfectly paired with the adorable, accessible artwork of Zack Giallongo (Broxo, Ewoks) in this side-splitting companion to their graphic novel The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth
Huge thank you to First Second and Netgalley for this ARC!
As a former ESL teacher and tutor, there was nothing more difficult than teaching someone Shakespeare. Trying to give someone an overview or understanding of why a story is the way it is is always a challenge. Thankfully, what I love about The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet is what it makes Shakespeare’s work accessible to young audiences, while removing the difficult language barrier some may find when reading his works.
The book is hilarious and really cheeky. If there’s one thing I can say I adored about it, it was having the little monkey’s commentary on every page — he is that kid who doesn’t like Shakespeare in the beginning and then by the end was completely hooked. The little monkey is a lot of us — Shakespeare is dull, old, boring! And yet there are ways to make it engaging and fun. I am always amazed with all the new kinds of ways that people go out of their way to make Shakespeare accessible, and this I think it’s truly one of the better ones — heck, I even loved the changes Lendler made to the ending, if only because when it comes to Romeo and Juliet — we were all thinking it (and no, I’m not spoiling the ending, it’s fabulous).
Admittedly, Romeo & Juliet is not one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, but I appreciate a lot of what Ian Lendler does to make the story more interesting and lively. The animals in the Stratford Zoo are just so much fun to read about, and it definitely makes me want to check out the Macbeth one that was done last year. This book is great for any parent or child who may want a more accessible approach to Shakespeare. Just don’t take this book as accurate, it’s not, but oddly I like it better than the real story.