Pop-up Shakespeare is an exciting book with spectacular paper engineering and lots of intriguing flaps to lift. This is a book you can read from all angles which would look wonderful displayed open in a classroom, a library or child’s bedroom.
An exciting double page spread is devoted to each category of drama: the comedies, romances, histories and tragedies. Plot summaries are provided. The very brief moral in a nutshell ‘long story short’ is a nice touch (e.g. re Othello: don’t believe everything you hear!). Shakespeare’s inventiveness with language is highlighted and there plenty of memorable quotes. The purpose and poetic construction of sonnets is outlined briefly.
Although written in a light hearted style, there is lots of information here. Readers will find an introduction to Shakespeare’s life at the beginning of the book including an insight into various controversies; his mysterious disappearance for several years, whether or not he wrote all the plays ascribed to him (whether indeed as a glove maker’s son he could write at all) and what happened to his ‘missing’ play entitled Cardenio. For young readers who like facts and figures there is information on not only how many plays and sonnets he wrote but also how many shipwrecks and stabbings are included. There are astute insights, for example into contemporary relevance of his implicit criticism of anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice. Some comments could be construed as a little flippant, for example referring to The Plague as a ‘fun old fashioned disease’.
Pop-up Shakespeare is a collaboration between Martin and Tichenor of the Reduced Theatre Company and the brilliant illustrator Jenny Maizels who created Pop-up London and Pop-up New York. This is a book which may interest fans of the Horrible Histories series, young readers interested in Shakespeare and collectors of paper engineered books. It appropriately ends with a suggestion to go and see a Shakespeare play live on stage. This engaging book may well tempt young readers to do so.