Kidscomic Shakespeare: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth
Adapting Shakespeare for kids is an age-old tradition stretching back almost to the time of Shakespeare itself. But as Cory Doctorow discovered, The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth brings The Scottish Play to life for audiences young and old in kids-comic form with a lot of broad humor and some grisly murder besides.
By the time I brought Ian Lendler and Zack Gialongo's The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth upstairs for a bedtime read, my six year old had already snuck it out of my bag and read it to herself, but she wanted me to read it to her anyway, which is the kind of vote-of-confidence that tells you there's something good going on here.
There's a lot of clever gags in this text that both amused me and my kid, though often for different reasons. Macbeth is played by a lion, and Lady Macbeth is played by a leopard (whose obsessive scrubbing at her "spots" take on a whole new complexion in light of her species). The witches are played by small mammals in masks, and squabble constantly about what the appropriate witchy cackle is ("Ho ho ho?" "No, that's Santa Claus"). Macduff is a stork, and he was "not of a mother born" because he was, ahem, delivered by a stork.
All in all, the authors have taken great care to strike a balance between the gore and excitement of Shakespeare and age-appropriate detail. The blood-motif becomes ketchup, which Macbeth slathers on all his victims before devouring them, and when all else fails, the audience/chorus can take over as an all-purpose comic-relief/figleaf. The story is a tribute to both the versatility of Shakespeare's stories and the resourcefulness of the creators.
On a technical level, this is also fantastic, with wonderful character design and excellent visual timing and storytelling. It's one of those books that's great for dedicated readers to take away on their own, or for beginning readers to enjoy with a grownup.
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth
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