I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo... until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails, in The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.
***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***
This is a very cute introduction to both the play Macbeth and to the theatre experience. Don’t go into it thinking that you’re going to get the dark, intellectual version of Macbeth—this is very much a kids’ version, but like any really good children’s book, there is an adult level in it too.
The pictures are every bit as much about the audience as about the play. The introductory plate has a fox who doesn’t want to sit beside a skunk and two rabbits who are disgruntled about sitting behind a giraffe. Adult theatre goers will recognize the problems of sitting behind tall people and sitting close to anyone drenched in aftershave/perfume. The artwork is wonderful—how do you make an elephant look sheepish and regretful, coming in at a crucial point in the play, trying to find his seat? (He interrupts the “brief candle” speech, which needed to be mentioned, but may not be to the taste of juvenile readers). Also brilliant is Macbeth’s companion, Banksy, depicted as a hyena in tartan, which must have been a blast to draw.
Two little monkeys in the audience debate issues like whether Macbeth is a good guy or a bad guy, how to understand poetry, and other theatre skills that kids may need someday (likely if their parents are buying them these graphic novels).
So, Macbeth is acted by the zoo’s lion—bored with all the food rewards for winning battles, he follows an intriguing new scent and is led to the weird sisters. There, he is tempted to eat the king in order to gain power. Eventually, his leopard wife nags him into action, and on the way down the hallway to consume the king, he has a vision—“Is this silverware I see before me?” He soon realizes that in order to avoid detection, he must eat Banksy as well. He receives the traditional assurances from the witches, no one with a mother will be able to depose you, the woods will have to move before you lose power. The zoo twists on these two stories are cute & understandable for children.
Zookeepers, like adults in most children’s literature, are clueless about what the animals are doing. All in all, if you have children who are able to read, I would recommend this graphic novel. If you are an adult, perhaps give it a pass unless you have children in your life—it is very much juvenile fiction.