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Day 114 – William Shakespeare and the Globe

On April 23, 1616 William Shakespeare died at the ripe old age of 52, after establishing himself as perhaps the greatest writer in the English language. We celebrated his life on the 23rd – since no one is quite sure of his birthday – by reading “William Shakespeare and the Globe” by Aliki. The book provides an entertaining high-level look at Shakespeare’s life, and the efforts long after his death to restore his famous theater to its former glory. With colorful illustrations and informative insets that fill the margins of every page, Aliki’s book is an engaging and accessible introduction to the “Bard of Avon” for younger listeners.
Bill Shakespeare
Although the pages of the book are sprinkled with quotations from Shakespeare’s works, Aliki does not go into great detail regarding the content of Shakespeare’s writing. She focuses instead on the timeline of Shakespeare’s life and the historical context within which he penned and staged his many plays. Readers are introduced to important historical figures from Shakespeare’s England, and to key rivals like Christopher Marlowe and his acting troupe – the Admiral’s Men. For younger listeners I think this approach is appropriate, providing just enough information to pique curiosity without confusing things by trying to delve into the intricacies of Shakespearean prose.

The book is not just about old Bill Shakespeare, though. Roughly a third of the story┬áis about American stage actor Sam Wanamaker and his tireless work (and infectious dream) to see The Globe Theater reborn so that Shakespeare’s plays could be “performed as they once were”. Aliki succeeds at conveying just how involved and difficult a task Mr. Wanamaker took on – and just how much help and luck he needed to make his dream come true. The only disappointing thing about what is otherwise an inspiring tale is that Mr. Wanamaker didn’t live to see his work completed. Ahh, well… I guess all’s well that ends well (sorry, I had to). As Aliki reminds us at the end of her book, just like Mr. Shakespeare lives on through his plays, Mr. Wanamaker lives on through the reconstructed and active Globe Theater.

We really enjoyed this book, and it certainly whet our appetites to read some Shakespeare together as a family. I think we may still be a year or two away from being able to do so, but this book almost had me thinking we could give it a try tomorrow.