Young Shakespeare Chases Inspiration
by Donna Guthrie
Illustrated by Asa Gilland
Page Street Kids
ages 4 to 8
With quotes and sly references to the famous works of William Shakespeare and the words he invented, this adventurous ode to language will delight readers young and old.
It all starts one morning when words fly into William’s window. He wants to catch them, but they are flibbertigibbety and quick and slip right through his fingers. Soon whole lines of verse are leading him on a wild goose chase as they tumble, dip, flip and skip all through town, past a host of colorful characters the observant reader may find as familiar as the quotes. William remains persistent, and with time and the proper tools he finds a way to keep the words with him.
Fans of Shakespeare are going to love this one! But it isn't only for them (obviously). Young readers/listeners meet Shakespeare as a young boy, who's full of life and ready for a silly, crazy adventure. It's a wonderful weave of a new tale, Shakespeare's famous lines, and a whole lot of chasing in between.
I'm going to start with the illustrations because they really are amazing. Shakespeare is presented as a bright, happy, enthusiastic boy, and yet, there's just a pinch of mischievous adventure packed into him that makes it impossible not to want to know what will happen to him. The scenes he races through each hold something from his books to match the famous phrases. And while these might be recognizable, they still have a lovely, subtle humor and so many fun details, that it's a treat to meet each page.
Alone Shakespeare's words would shoot way over young listeners' heads. So, this book steers kind of clear of that. Instead, the phrases become strings of words that he chases as they do anything and everything they can to stay out of his reach. The phrases always match the characters in the illustrations, though, placing them nicely with his works in a very subtle and fun way.
As to the adventure...well, these phrases are very slick and tricky. Young William does his best to dash after them, and that's the story told in the usual printed font. There's a few lines on each page, and these keep the tension and fun high. I was a little disappointed to see that sometimes the vocabulary is on the tougher side, though. While new words are great for young readers, this book does pack more than that. And considering Shakespeare's phrases are already going to stretch things on that end, it might be a bit more than some listeners will be able to wrap their heads around. Still, I did love the adventure and find the chase simply cute and clever.
This is a lovely book to pick up and proves that Shakespeare isn't dry or out of reach. Young listeners will enjoy the fun, be lured in by the illustrations, and maybe wish they could have squiggly lines of words to go after themselves.