Thursday, September 10, 2015

Don’t make Shakespeare boring: Stratford Night Midnight Revue - Romeo & Juliet

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet 
by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars :star :star :star 
Source: e-ARC via publisher | NG
Publisher: First Second Books
Date of Publication: September 29th, 2015

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.
Ian Lendler's hilarious tale of after-hours animal stagecraft is perfectly paired with the adorable, accessible artwork of Zack Giallongo (Broxo, Ewoks) in this side-splitting companion to their graphic novel The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.

My Review 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t read a lot of middle grade graphic novels but I have to say that one of my all-time favorites was Macbeth (Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue). Macbeth was the first edition of the so-called Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue series that is hopefully an ongoing one. I was so excited after I read Macbeth because I laughed so much and there was a promise of more! Then when I got the chance to read the next installment early—well, suffice it to say I couldn’t wait and read it months ahead of time (which I usually don’t do due to just being the important person I am).

Romeo and Juliet was definitely way different from the rendition of Macbeth that I so loved. In fact, it seems like there are more differences than similarities, but perhaps I should list them to best see what made this fall short for me. Yet, I think it’s important to say that I didn’t hate this. Maybe it was the similarities that made me give this 3 stars…?

Similarities (in this case: aka: PROS)

-Comical take on shakespeare
-it still is a play set by the animals in a zoo after the zoo closes and when the guards are asleep
-graphically the same artistic style (which was great)
-Same type of humor, although less hilarious for adults (not sure about kids, i’ll get back to you on that).

Differences (“ “ CONS)
-Plot really changed with this one… a lot more “kid friendly” meant no romance at all it was a friendship between the two characters that was discouraged (one was from the zoo the other was “wild”)
-the plot was a lot more back and forth with the audience, we had some monkeys fighting
some vultures (?) commentary too white watching the play (unnecessary imo)
-more tame, pun intended?
-no longer a type of story that adults can read to their kids while both laughing (at maybe different parts of the same joke). That was a true loss, in my view.

So it seems there are many more differences than similarities with the first edition of this series. I hope the series continues but mostly I hope that they stay more towards Macbeth. I liked that one so much more because of these above reasons! 

I feel like when you find something unique you want to shout it from the rooftops. With Romeo and Juliet I felt like it made Shakespeare a bit boring and with a graphic novel, one that is set in a zoo with animals telling the story —boring is something you do not want to incite! So I will be keeping my eyes open for where this series will lead but I have to say:

I would probably only recommend this to lovers of middle grade graphic novels specifically kids who want to read shakespeare (or who wish to read a cute story). The graphics are great, but parents, you won’t get too many laughs in while reading this aloud to your tots.

author image


(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.

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