Rummanah Aasi
 The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue graphic novel series is a great way for children to get a taste of Shakespeare without being overwhelmed by the Bard's language, bawdy jokes, sex, and violence. This may sound boring or too sanitized, but creators Lender and Giallongo make it not only work but an entertaining read.

Description: 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, in The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.

Review: Known for its gruesome murders among other things, Macbeth might not seem to be the most kid friendly play, but placing the classic play within a story makes it palatable. The animals of Stratford Zoo are putting on a show- specifically Macbeth -starring the lion as the play's titular hero and featuring a hyena and a cast of other animals to fill out the ranks. I really liked how the casting of different animals in the roles makes a nod to the character's personality traits of the play but also of the animals themselves. To contrast the dark play, the animal audience provides humor while making quips, providing commentary, and hiding from the zookeeper.  
  The play adaptation is different from the original given the graphic novel's audience. For instance Macbeth eats the various characters with large amounts of ketchup gets the point across of Macbeth's blinded ambition and his wavering moral compass without being graphic. All of the violence is offstage and only hinted at, not depicted, in keeping with the younger audience envisioned for this book.
  The artwork is bright and cartoonish, with an appealing mix of panel sizes to keep the story moving, emphasize key points, and allow for amusing little details for readers to find. I did notice a few times where the animals actually quote direct lines from the play, but I didn't find that distracting. I'm actually really looking forward to see which play the Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue perform next.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Violence does page off screen, however; all of the characters "eaten" pop out of the King's belly with no harm done to them. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo, Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield, Tales from Shakespeare by Tina Packer
3 Responses
  1. Intersting for sure. I like the part about eating with ketchup instead of murdering.

  2. What a great way to introduce the Bard. This sounds perfect for kids.

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    This is such a great idea and probably so much more enjoyable and easier to understand for the younger (heck even my age) crowd!

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