Simanaitis Says

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THIS CHARMING book was actually a birthday present from Wife Dottie, and it has easily become a Christmas recommendation to anyone loving someone who reads, be that someone a spouse, parent, friend, or kid. In fact, there’s a tiny blurb on the back that states “Ages 7–10,” though this is so much more than a kid’s book.

Maizels Pop-up Shakespeare: Every play and poem in pop-up 3-D, by Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, The Reduced Shakespeare Company, illustrated by Jennie Maizels, Candlewick Press, 2017

The artful pop-up nature of the book may well attract 7- to 10-year-olds. But it’s also an attraction to bibliophiles who delight in pages that do more than lie flat. There’s a Pop-Up Shakespeare double-spread for each of Shakespeare’s World, the Comedies, the Histories, the Romances, and, da dum, the Tragedies.

The Comedies, front view.

Each of Shakespeare’s 39 plays gets a Long Story Short précis, often with tongue lodged firmly in cheek: On King Lear: “Families can drive you crazy.” On The Taming of the Shrew: “Some people really deserve each other.”

Each pop-up spread is filled with Shakespearean tidbits and flaps that open to more insights. Turn the book around, and there’s more to read and admire on the backside of each spread.

The Comedies, rear view.

The Pop-Up Shakespeare, though, is more than just a one-look novelty. The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor believe the troupe’s motto, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and they also know how to include solid information with both of these attributes. Jennie Maizels’ artful pop-up constructions and other illustrations add to the wit and convey a sense of the Elizabethan scene.

Most appropriately, illustrator Jennie Maizels and co-author Austin Tichenor celebrated the publication of Pop-Up Shakespeare as guests of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, September 24, 2017.

There’s no skimping of Shakespearean lore. The Comedies spread, for example, includes all of the favorites as well as a separate discussion of All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Troilus and Cressida, these considered “problem plays” by scholars who feel they aren’t up to Shakespeare’s usual comedic touch.

This last one is summarized: “Troilus loves Cressida, but because the Trojan War is going on, everybody keeps killing everybody else and it’s a big unfunny bloodbath. In the final scene, Pundarus curses the audience. The audience is usually so fed up that they curse back!”

The lower right corner of the final pop-up spread reads “Congratulations! We hope you’ve enjoyed our book and discovering all about Shakespeare’s life and works, his 1 wife, 3 kids, 2 hometowns, 39 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 epic poems, 2 not-so-epic poems, 74 deaths, 1 human pie, 33 stabbings, 8 shipwrecks, 1 bear, 3 dogs (Crab in Two Gents, one of the workmen’s dogs in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and “Out, damned ‘Spot’ from Macbeth), and 0 actual crabs. Now, go out and see some of Shakespeare’s plays on the stage!”

What a great summary and wonderful sentiment! ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2017


  1. sabresoftware
    November 29, 2017

    It would be tempting to get this book for my 6 1/2 year old grandson (emphasis on the 1/2 by the young gentleman). Problem is that gentle is not an apt description; I think that book would be destroyed in short order.

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This entry was posted on November 29, 2017 by in I Usta be an Editor Y'Know and tagged , .
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