Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times

Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times

Colleen Aagesen, Margie Blumberg
For ages 12 and up
Chicago Review Press, 1999   ISBN: 978-1556523472

Shakespeare was born at a very special moment in English history. A queen who loved "to be amused" was on the throne and great changes were taking place all over Europe. It was almost as if a perfect setting had been created just for Shakespeare's arrival.

William Shakespeare was the son of John and Mary Shakespeare. John made gloves, he turned animal hides into white leather, and he also bought and sold timber, barley and wool. John was a respected member of the community and he served on the town council. Because of this he was able to give his son a good education and William, unlike his father, was skilled at writing. His father was also able to pay for tickets to plays when traveling players came to town.

When he was just eighteen William married Anne Hathaway and not long after, his daughter Susanna was born. Two years later Anne had twins, Hamnet and Judith. It is believed that William probably worked with his father at this time but in 1586 he left his hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon to go to London. Here he quickly made a name for himself as an actor, poet, and playwright. By 1592 William had written several plays. From 1594 William's plays were played exclusively by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting company which William was a member of. After the death of Queen Elizabeth, this group was given a patent by King James I and thereafter was known as the King's Men.

In 1599 some of the members of the group formed a partnership and, pooling their resources, they built their own theatre, The Globe, on the south bank of the Thames. Not having to pay rent for their theatre, the members did well financially and William was able to afford a large new home in Stratford.

It is believed that around 1611 Shakespeare went back to live in Stratford. He died not long after on April 23rd, 1616.

In this unique book the authors not only tell the story of William Shakespeare. They also give readers an intriguing look at what it might have been like to live in England during Shakespeare's lifetime. Then, to make things more interesting, they have created twenty-one activities which readers are sure to want to try. These include decorating a pair of gloves, making a horn book, composing a sonnet, staging a sword fight, and much more. In addition the authors use quotations from Shakespeare's works extensively and explore the language that he used. Readers will discover how beautifully Shakespeare captured the humorous, dramatic, and tragic moments that make up the human experience.