Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: The Tempest ~ retold by Ann Keay Beneduce, illustrations by Gennady Spirin



Reviewed by Shellie:  ~  The Tempest ~ rewritten by Ann Keay Beneduce with movie tie in information and more!

We are such stuff as dreams are made on…..

About:  This is a child’s picture book and is a retelling of Shakespeare’s play. It is about Prospero, the Duke of Milan, and his small daughter who are set adrift on the sea by the king of Naples and Prospero's evil brother. They are conspiring to acquire his land and holdings, but do not murder Prospero and Miranda since the evil doers do not want to be blamed for their deaths.

However, Prospero is a magician of great talent and he and Miranda survive the incident. They are washed up on an enchanted island inhabited by a variety of magical beings – both good and bad. Taking refuge in a cave, they try to live a peaceful and happy life. As Miranda comes of age Prospero knows she will need the companionship of others, so he conjures up a storm which blows his brother’s traveling ship onto the rocks around the island. He and the remaining crew are brought on shore, but because this includes the conspiring king as well as the king’s son, the story has just begun.

Thoughts:  Ah Shakespeare, the incredible and articulate bard from days of yore. What I would not give to understand his wonderful and archaic language. Difficult as the verbiage it is for adults, it is much more so for children. With consideration to the many wonderful tie-ins around this fantastical story, it’s a shame not to have a simpler basis on which to build an understanding. That’s where a book like this can come in, as a way for adults to help children understand and to introduce them into the language of old England, and the wonders of ~ The Tempest.

With lacey and old fashioned illustrations from Gennaday Spririn, the co-author has included current language which is understandable for children (and for adults like me). Yet for authenticity she has included some brief and easy to understand quotes from Shakespeare’s actual work – like the one prefacing this review. (I have always wondered where that familiar line had originated). Helped by the illustrations, it is a way for children and adults to further understand the basis for Shakespeare’s complex story lines and language. I liked this book a lot and give it 3.5 stars.

I am actually surprised there are not more picture books as well as a graphic novel for the tale published. If  there are I could not find one (hint to artists and publishers).

Purchasing links for this out of print book - US|UK|Canada; Ages 9-12; Hardcover: 32 pages; Philomel; 1st Ed. edition (March 19, 1996)

A new movie version has just been released (PG-13), with an incredible cast including Helen Mirren (as Prospera – I like the gender switch) and Russell Brand (as Trinculo – who is not mentioned in the above book). We are very excited as we love these English actors. I have included the movie trailer; the movie was out on December 10th (in the USA). It’s the perfect family holiday film!


Here are two books which I hope to read soon, which are based upon The Tempest from Tor. We see Miranda here on these amazing covers. I think Tor has the best covers for fantasy. Don’t you?


  • Prospero in Hell ~ by L. Jagi Lamplighter; Amazon US/UK/Canada
  • Prospero Lost ~ by L. Jagi Lamplighter; Amazon US/UK/Canada

For publisher’s blurbs see Layers of Thoughts preview for the L. Jagi Lamplighter series on Prospero.

For more Shakespearean spin-offs and a very fun post link to io9 ~ for the Coolest Shakespeare Riffs in Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Have a great day ~ its almost Christmas!

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