Just by looking at this book, you can tell it’s a Pamela Butchart and Thomas Flintham classic. The award winning duo have made a book which retells four well known Shakespeare plays through the voice of Izzy – she relates situations in her life with her friends to the plots of the stories. Izzy, being Izzy, rambles through these tales with frankness and wit, which enables her friends to empathise with the characters and understand why she has seen parallels with her life and Shakespeare’s plays.
I think that it is a great idea to write stuff related to Shakespeare, as this year it is the 400th year anniversary of his death. Lots of schools are having Shakespeare topics or are in some way paying homage to the great writer, so hopefully children will be curious to read more versions of his stories because of this. Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross have written some particularly good concise versions if you are interested in more Shakespeare stuff. I would argue that you are more likely to find Butchart’s book funny if you have read/ know of the stories before you read her versions, as it kind of takes the micky out of
some characters, particularly if they are really serious and they are made to say silly things. So if you know them already, you will ‘get it’ a bit more.
My favourite bits tended to be when serious characters were made to say/do funny things or when Izzy described them in such a frank way. Below, I have written a couple of my favourite bits which made me chuckle.
(About Lady Macbeth after her husband, Macbeth, won a battle and invited his friends over)
‘Lady Macbeth was raging because she had to go shopping and get decorations and do a buffet and she only had an hour to do it because they didn’t have phones in Olden Times so she only found out about the king coming when Macbeth came home, covered in guts, and told her.’
Do a buffet!! Haha!
(The explanation of why the Montagues and the Capulets in Romeo and Juliet didn’t like each other)
‘But then one day Mrs Montague borrowed Mrs Capulet’s hoover, and when she gave it back it was BROKEN and Mrs Montague said it was like that when she got it. But Mrs Capulet said that it DEFINITELY WASN’T and that it was practically BRAND NEW.’
I love that their massive feud in which people actually died was all over a broken hoover…
Another aspect of Romeo and Juliet that I really liked was the way in which Izzy explained how much of a sickly soppy romantic Romeo was. I have always thought this about Romeo, he is such a drip as a character. At the beginning of the play he is going on about how much he loves someone else, then falls in love with Juliet in a mere matter of seconds. Then he just harks on about how much he loves her and how they should get married and all that lovey-dovey stuff and it’s all just a bit, well, creepy!
There are just four short stories in this book, so why not have a go if you’re not too confident about reading chapter books but want to give yourself a challenge. You can just read one of the short stories and leave it at that, or you could try and read all of them? It could be a good bedtime story book – one story a night maybe?
A great read that adults will really enjoy as well as children. Get stuck in!