Shakespeare For Children

Spanky and I have been looking through everything for an old book I used to read to them. It’s a collection of Shakespeare plays broken down into simple stories for kids.

Now this isn’t a stuffy house, we don’t run around here quoting the Bard. My mom used to do that and we did not have a stuffy house then, either, but the woman had entire Shakespeare plays memorized. Anyway, I admire his work greatly because of the profound insight his plays offer.

Studying Hamlet ages ago, the big question in class was whether Hamlet was mad or just pretending to be crazy. It seemed pointless to dwell on a question with no answer. It drove some of my classmates mad, this question. Oh, the irony. Indecision, too, that was big with this play (to be or not to be).

I didn’t dwell on those two biggies. The thing that struck me the most about the play was something at the beginning, something about two countries at war over a piece of land that was not even big enough to bury the soldiers who died fighting over it. It remains to this day one of the most provocative things I’ve ever read.

My thoughts today are not focused on the war in Iraq, it’s not about that.

It’s about any battle. Any war. Any fight. The people who fight them. What they are fighting over.

I have no respect for people who fight just for the sake of fighting. They have no regard whatsoever for what they are fighting over. It is about pulverizing their opponent. They live their lives looking for fights to win. Any fight. But mostly easy fights. These people are bullies.

Bullies don’t catch on that they are rotting from the inside out. In the end, when the last tic sounds on their clock, they are ultimately losers and their only legacy is a path of destruction.

Unless of course they run across someone who can clean their clocks. It happens. Everyone loves that kind of ending where the hero comes in and saves the day. No one cheers for the bully.

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12 thoughts on “Shakespeare For Children

  1. Bullies are never alone. They always move in packs because quite frankly, on their own, they are broken little souls lacking self esteem. This is why they bully. Bringing everyone down to their level gives them a level playing field. It is sad and pathetic.

    I do no remember my mom ever quoting any famous literature around the house, just Neil Diamond.

  2. I do not care for those Shakespeare books for kids. They lack everything that matters about Shakespeare — the beauty and art in his use of the language. I figure if a kid is ready for Shakespeare, a kid is ready for real Shakespeare.

  3. Max, this was a book I read to them before they could read. Ariel is reading the grown up stuff now, on her own and just wanted to compare those stories to what she is reading right now. Probably so she could come up with the same conclusion as you, that it is lacking what makes it matter. It could be why we don’t have it, I must have tossed it.

    Michele, I thought Bush was short too, but he’s actually 6’2″. It ain’t that.

  4. Well. When I was in grammar school, I came across this Shakespeare book in the library. I had never read him. I had heard his name a lot though. So I cracked the book thinking I was going to see something good. Read a little. Thought, Jeez this Shakespeare guy sucks, and put it back. A while later I ran into some real Shakespeare, and thought what the hell? And went back and found that book again to find out what was up

    That book in the library? That wasn’t Shakespeare. That was “Shakespeare for Kids.” Only see, I did not get, going in, the “for kids” part of that title meant “mangled and badly rewritten.” I just thought it meant “for kids.” Like just the clean stuff or something. My mistake. But hey, I was a kid, how would I know?

    Anyway, that is why that “Shakespeare for Kids” stuff leaves a bad taste in my mouth. To me it is sort of like repainting Monet, badly, and saying, Oh but this is Monet for kids, so they get it.

    Kids get plenty. And what they do not get? They are just not ready for but they will get it later.

  5. It was mangled and badly rewritten. LOL.
    Great Monet analogy, Max.
    As far as Shakespeare plays go, the Oxford Editions are the best, I find. Even adult versions can be screwed up.

  6. Oh you guys are doing this wrong, you are supposed to covertly meet the guy in the purple hat on the corner and pass him a few folded bills and he will slip you a few containers of Coke Blak.

    Sheesh, no one is covert any more.

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