Hamlet: Retold in Modern-Day English

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Title: Hamlet: Retold in Modern-Day English

Author: Timothy Knapman

Illustrator: Yaniv Shimony

Publisher: QEB Publishing

Year: 2015

Summary: This is the story of Hamlet retold for children. It includes all the elements of ghosts, murders, deaths, and weddings of the original story. Hamlet is called home to Denmark for his father’s funeral. When he arrives the guards show him the ghost of his dead father, the king, roaming the castle battlements. The ghost tells Hamlet that he has been murdered by his brother, Hamlet’s uncle, who has now married the queen, Hamlet’s mother. Hamlet vows to get revenge for his father’s death. But his uncle is clever and realizes that Hamlet knows the truth. Hamlet accidentally kills his girlfriend’s father, thinking it is his uncle and now his girlfriend has gone mad and her brother vows to kill Hamlet. Hamlet’s father sends him to England with two of his friends with a letter to the English king to kill him. Hamlet finds the letter and changes it so that his friends are killed instead of himself. When his ship is taken over by pirates, Hamlet is taken back to Denmark for a ransom. On his return, Hamlet learns that his girlfriend had killed herself in her madness. He is angry and her brother is angry as well. His uncle plans a duel between Hamlet and his girlfriend’s brother, whose father he had accidentally killed.  His uncle poisons one of the swords and a cu of wine. Hamlet’s mother accidentally drinks the poisoned wine and dies. And the sword cuts both opponents, but before Hamlet dies he takes the poisoned sword and kills his uncle with it. In the end, only Hamlet’s best friend is still alive.

Literary Merit: William Shakespeare! Easy/Easier to understand than the original.

Kid Appeal: Adventure, ghosts, sword fights, poison, pirates, murder, and deaths. I think there would be a great market for this with the older readers, maybe 10+ years old, but it is too easy for a traditional chapter book.

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Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.

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