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Summer Reading - books for all ages.
Featured Resource

Shakespeare's Globe: An Interactive Pop-Up Theatre


Shakespeare's Globe: An Interactive Pop-Up Theatre

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Publisher: Candlewick Press

Author: Toby Forward

Illustrator: Juan Wijngaard

List Price: $19.99

Ages: 9-11 Years

Reviewed By: Jean Hall

I just love hands-on tools that help me to visualize a place or time. Combine that with my fascination with pop-up books and you have the perfect "visual aid" when studying the plays of Shakespeare (short of going to an actual performance that is!).

Open Shakespeare's Globe and you find a playbill, an invitation to "Come and play in our theatre," selecting a scene from one of a dozen plays. A cast of twenty cardstock actors is provided, all in full costume and striking dramatic poses, each clearly labeled with the character's name and the play in which the character appears. There are also two playbooks, convenient for two players (or more, if you share) to act out the scenes you choose. For each play there is a brief commentary on the play and introduction to the scene taken from the original. The scenes are familiar ones, from Romeo's "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" and Jacques' "All the world's a stage" to Richard Gloucester's "Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York".

But wait! We've barely scratched the surface! Turn over the stiff board bearing the playbill and the Globe Theatre springs to life (in miniature, of course) before you, from the yard where the groundlings stand to watch performances, to the thatched roof, and everything in between! Galleries, balconies, and star-painted ceiling; stately pillars of hollow wood painted to look like marble, musicians on the balcony and paying spectators in the galleries, groundlings crowded before the stage: The play's about to begin! (Ahem. Pardon me. I very nearly shouted in exuberance, "The play's the thing/ Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.")

But before our actors take the stage, let us stop a moment to read through the enclosed booklet, "Welcome to the Globe," in which Richard Burbage, the leading actor of the King's Men who perform at the Globe, tells us of the theater's history and then takes us on a tour of the playhouse, from pit (beneath the stage) to pinnacle. Be warned that Mr. Burbage has a very poor opinion of the Puritans, and does not hesitate to express it, even while he himself bemoans bear-baiting and the immorality that is reported to run rampant among thespians and theater-goers in Venice.

But now let us choose our scene and ready our actors. The actors have long cardstock "handles" that allow you to introduce them into the Globe through carefully-placed openings on either side, giving access to the stage and balcony. We have found through our own experiments that quite a number of actors can be onstage at the same time. Indeed, at times we do not confine ourselves to Shakespeare's scenes but find ourselves acting out our own ideas!

Brief scenes in the playbooks are drawn from the following plays:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Twelfth Night
As You Like It
The Merchant of Venice
King Lear
Julius Caesar
The Tempest
Romeo and Juliet
Richard III
Henry V

There's only a little to criticize here. The colors are rich and lifelike, giving an impression of what the Globe and the people who went there might have looked like in the early 1600s. The pop-up "theatre" is sturdy (for a pop-up). Certainly it will not survive a toddler using it as a seat (!) but with relatively careful handling this book/activity will provide hours of pleasure. However, the "pouch" provided to store the "actors" is inadequate--we found ourselves substituting a quart-sized "zipper" plastic storage bag instead. The storage niches for the playbooks are flimsy and quickly "ripped out" of their places. (It is a good thing that two playbooks are provided, for we've managed to lose one, and so we must pass the remaining book from hand to hand when we are acting out scenes from the book.)

All in all this is a well-made and welcome addition to our study of Shakespeare.

More Information
Available From: Candlewick Press
Address: 99 Dover Street, Somerville MA 02144
Other Notes:
Purchase Now From the Eclectic Homeschool Resource Center
Jean Hall
Jean Hall, a Christian home educator with three daughters, enjoys writing stories and music. Her family's interests include reading together, art, gardening, volkswalking and pets: two cats and a Giant Schnauzer.
Copyright © 2006 Eclectic Homeschool Association
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