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The School Librarian

Crystal, who is both an actor and the co-writer of several books about Shakespeare’s language with his famous father David Crystal, has billed his latest book as ‘an instruction manual of Shakespeare’.

This fun and fascinating book reminded me in its style of a more sophisticated version of the ‘Horrible Histories’ in that it has the ability to both entertain and to inform in equal measure. One major advantage over the ‘Horrible Histories’ approach is that hits book has a very good index so it would be useful for the English teacher or student to dip into for help with particular areas.

For example, I found the explanation of the Bard’s use poetic form particularly well written and easy fir the novice to understand. It might be too quirky for the traditionalist but for any student struggling to understand Shakespeare’s work as a poet and dramatist, this would be a very good ‘instruction manual’ indeed. Crystal states that he wants to ‘make Shakespeare’s works accessible without dumbing them down’ and this he does admirably.
English staff would be delighted with Crystal’s practical suggestions to help the reader in deciphering and appreciating Shakespeare’s works as they stand rather than ‘in translation’. I would imagine that any reader using it to help with a specific concept would be hooked into reading it in its entirety… I certainly was!

Highly recommended for the school library (and to pass on to the English Department).

— Anne-Marie Tarter

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