Recently we have embarked on studying Shakespeare in our homeschool. Shakespeare is essential teaching to anyone with a literature, classical or Charlotte Mason approach. In fact, at some point all students are given exposure to Shakespeare. One of the most common complaints by students is their lack of understanding the Old English used in all of Shakespeare’s writing. While I find it one of the most beautiful aspects it is source of frustration for even many homeschooling moms. This is understandable as the Old English is quite different than today’s modern language. One advantage my children have when reading Shakespeare is their familiarity with Old English from reading the King James Version of the Bible. Still, there are questions and gaps in understanding.
I then embarked on a journey of my own; to make Shakespeare easier to understand so it could be fully appreciated by all my children. This quest led me to Sterling Publishing. Sterling Publishing offers a variety of books for all walks of life and all ages. One such book they offer is No Fear Shakespeare Illustrated Series. I had the pleasure of reviewing the graphic novel in this series of MacBeth. I knew this would make an impact on at least my 10 year old son. Think of it as a picture book for Shakespeare lovers. I was not sure how my 12 year old daughter would respond since she is intent on reading original works and dislikes anything juvenile. I think that is the preteen in her.
I will start out by saying that I dislike graphic novels. Personally, I would never read a graphic novel and until now could not find one I would recommend. With a bias against graphic novels, I ended up thinking highly of this book. The illustrations are superb and the interpretation of MacBeth is clear and does not miss a beat. I would recommend this to any mom who is trying to teach Shakespeare to a reluctant crowd or to one who is having trouble understanding the play. My 10 year old son actually grew an appreciation for Shakespeare. The essence of Shakespeare is impressively preserved in this graphic novel so it comes alive to a younger crowd or anyone who wants a modern translation. The toughest critic is my 12 year old. My only regret in allowing her to read this novel is that she now wants the entire series. I am in shock that she actually liked a graphic novel. This a child who stands unimpressed with Narnia. I originally thought this book would only appeal to my son but in the end it was loved by all even my 5 year old who loves to share the Shakespeare experience with her siblings.
From the site:
Series: No Fear Shakespeare Illustrated
Published: January 2008
No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels is a series based on the translated texts of the plays found in No Fear Shakespeare. The original No Fear series made Shakespeare’s plays much easier to read, but these dynamic visual adaptations are impossible to put down. Each of the titles is illustrated in its own unique style, but all are distinctively offbeat, slightly funky, and appealing to teen readers. Each book will feature:
Illustrated cast of characters
A helpful plot summary
Line-by-line translations of the original play
Illustrations that show the reader exactly what’s happening in each scene—making the plot and characters even clearer than in the original No Fear Shakespeare books.