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*William Shakespeare's The Tempest* by Marianna Mayer, illustrated by Lynn Bywaters - young readers book review

William Shakespeare's The Tempest
by Marianna Mayer, illustrated by Lynn Bywaters
ages 6-10 40 pages Chronicle Books September 2005 Hardcover    

The combination of text and images in this adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is exquisite, rendered in a magical realism that reveals the tale in simple terms: Prospero, the former Duke of Milan, and his baby daughter, Miranda, are abducted and cast upon the open sea in a boat.

A bundle of provisions and books on the magic arts are secreted on the craft by a loyal friend, ensuring that Prospero and his daughter survive their ordeal, navigating to a small island, where they make a home among the creatures and the forests, bordered by the sea.

Twelve years later, Miranda has blossomed into a beautiful young woman, Prospero determined to right the wrongs against him and his daughter. Indeed, as the perpetrators of Prospero’s banishment sail near the island, a terrible storm arises. The vessel crashes against the cliffs, Alonso, the King of Naples, his son and Prospero’s brother, Antonio, surely doomed to a watery grave. Terrified, Miranda begs her father to summon his spells and save the ship and its occupants. Much to her surprise, Prospero admits that he has caused the tempest, bringing those who have harmed them near in order to exact his revenge.

Prospero listens carefully to the counsel of his magic sprites, especially Ariel, the wind spirit, and all on the vessel are saved, but separated from one another “and the ship, though safe and sound upon the beach, is made invisible.” By magical means, Prospero keeps the others apart on the island while he arranges a meeting between Miranda and Prince Ferdinand, hoping the two young people will fall in love.

Through the intervention of Ariel and his other spirits, Prospero orchestrates a clever revenge, ending in the happy marriage of his daughter and the prince and forgiveness for his brother and the King. Prospero’s lands are restored and his sprites released as father and daughter return to the place of their birth to reclaim their titles and goods.

The text is displayed in parchment-like squares, set against the jewel-toned colors of Prospero’s island, the verdant greens of the forest, the azure sky, the roiling, sapphire sea. In this enchanted landscape, fairies mix with characters and Prospero resolves his fate and that of his daughter to everyone’s advantage.

This wry tale of love, honor and forgiveness has great appeal for young imaginations, balancing tragedy and humor, gorgeous cameo illustrations sprinkled throughout the pages, a rich canvas of foibles and fancies in a world where people and fantasy coexist. A perfect pairing of author and illustrator, this is a book to delight children and adults alike.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Luan Gaines/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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