cover image William Shakespeare & the Globe

William Shakespeare & the Globe

Aliki. HarperCollins, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027820-5

William Shakespeare may get top billing in the title of this picture book, but the emphasis within is less certain. Aliki (Mummies Made in Egypt) doesn't investigate Shakespeare as a personality; dividing her work into five ""acts,"" she focuses more on Elizabethan culture, dramatic conventions and living conditions, then shifts to Sam Wanamaker and the process of renovating the Globe in the 20th century. Aliki employs serviceable, almost pedestrian statements to convey the history, stretching occasionally toward cleverness. Of the open-ceilinged Globe, she comments, ""When it rained, [the audience] knew it."" The material on Wanamaker's restoration sheds light on the process by which the new Globe was built (""The first and only thatched roof in London since 1666""), although the character of Sam, with whom readers are meant to identify, remains bland. Pages are loaded with small panel illustrations of characters and historic figures in exaggerated poses. They capture a jolly theatrical spirit (nearly everyone in the quaint colored-pencil pictures wears a gentle smile), yet the many crowd scenes do not repay scrutiny. Unlike Diane Stanley's work in Bard of Avon, these pictures give only a broad idea of the historical context. Quotations from the bard populate the margins, and numerous appendixes provide facts. The wide range of information here makes this book a useful introduction to Elizabethan theater, despite its disparate themes and generalized pictures. All ages. (May)