Tomorrow, 23rd April, sees the 400th anniversary of the death of the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare. Producing 37 plays and 154 sonnets in his lifetime, the literary influence his work has had is vast, with retellings, reinterpretations and reimagining’s cropping up all the time, often in unexpected places (did you know Disney’s The Lion King is a riff on Hamlet?)
Libraries across Norfolk have been celebrating some of these ‘new’ versions, with Shakespeare Re-written, this year’s Norfolk’s Great Big Read. You can keep track of how the promotion has been going by looking at the official hashtag, #NGBR16
Amelia from Litcham School (our current hosts of the Norfolk Shelf Talk blog) wrote a brilliant blog post about her own experience of the Great Big Read, coming up with a few Shakespeare-influence books suitable for young people. She also put together a Shakespeare quiz for those brave enough to test their knowledge; you can find the pdf over on the Shelf Talk blog and if you’d like the answers, email us!
Related, and in case you missed it, we put together a Bard Themed Thursday in honour of last month’s Shakespeare week, which you can find here.
Below are this week’s Friday Reads!
Apryl: No Normal (Ms Marvel volume 1) written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona & Jacob Wyatt.
I’m in the midst of comic and graphic novel revival, after an incredibly long period away from the format- I’d forgotten how great they are to read and this is a prime example. From comic book powerhouse Marvel, No Normal is great for upper KS3 and beyond and brings together the first five issues of the recently rebooted Ms Marvel series. Kamala Kahn is a Muslim-American teenager growing up in Jersey City, who finds herself inheriting superhuman abilities and the Ms Marvel title from one of her idols, Carol Danvers. Even if you are unfamiliar with the history of the previous incarnation of the comic, this series makes for an incredibly enjoyable read and it’s brilliant to see both gender and racial diversity continuing to make its way into the superhero genre.
(Marvel, £11.99 paperback, ISBN 9780785190219)
Gail: Pretty Salma by Niki Daly
An African Red Riding Hood, I read this book in an infant school assembly yesterday and got 7 children to act it out. Seemed to be enjoyed by all! Really colourful, fun tale with opportunities for audience participation. You just need a few props such as a stripy piece of material to wrap around Salma, a basket and things to buy in the market (such as a melon) and some percussion instruments! Great for discussing the differences between the Red Riding Hood tale they know and this African version.
(Frances Lincoln, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781845074982, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)
Harriet: A Pocket Full of Murder by R.J. Anderson
Suitable for good readers at the top of primary school and KS3, this is a multi-layered mystery set in a slightly parallel universe. The characters feel warm and human enough however, and the author sweeps the reader along hoping with the heroine to rescue her wrongly accused father before he is put to death for murder. This is quite a challenging read, involving many twists and turns along the way, along with moral dilemmas such as religious tolerance, equality and justice.
(Orchard Books, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781408338933, find it here on the NLIS catalogue)
Zoë: Hamlet by by William Shakespeare, retold by Timothy Knapman
This is another from the Tales from Shakespeare Retold in modern-day English series by Timothy Knapman; this version of Hamlet brings the story to a new audience with its accessible language, atmospheric illustrations as well as being abridged. As with Shakespeare’s plays, it opens with the cast list – dramatis personae – and a brief explanation of who they are.
To support authenticity, quotes from Shakespeare’s play script are dispersed throughout the story, displayed in scrolls and citing the character who speaks it. Whilst the modern-day English makes the story accessible, the storyline remains challenging, making it suitable for UKS2, in particular boys who are able yet reluctant readers.+
(QED Publishing, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781784930011)
Find our previous Friday Reads, here.