Hamlet for Kids


64 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations
ISBN 1-55209-530-4
DDC jC812'.54





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is the
author of several books, including The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese
Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret Laurence: T


It’s difficult to see Shakespeare as a contemporary, but Lois
Burdett’s elementary-school students in Stratford, Ontario, have
achieved this under her guidance. Burdett has been introducing children
to Shakespeare for over 20 years through her versions of the Bard’s
major plays in rhyming couplets.

Burdett’s students have drawn and painted Shakespeare’s main
characters and have written their own versions of his dramas. One
seven-year-old, for example, summarizes Polonius’s advice to Laertes
in six numbered points including the following: “Avoid fights just
leave; Talk less, listen more; Dress in fine clothes but don’t go

An enthusiastic foreword by Kenneth Branagh calls Burdett’s version
refreshing, a lucid, funny, and evocative rendition of the story:
“There are passionate reactions to the characters, which they draw
with real feeling, and comments on the story and the people which are
intelligent, moving and very, very funny.” Indeed they are.

Hamlet is seventh in Burdett’s Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series; the
other six volumes are The Tempest for Kids (1999), Romeo and Juliet for
Kids (1998), A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids, (1997), Macbeth for
Kids (1996), A Child’s Portrait of Shakespeare (1995), and Twelfth
Night for Kids (1994). Her international reputation is growing, as are
her books and workshops for teachers. Her rhyming-couplet text together
with the children’s drawings and comments make a winning combo. Highly


Burdett, Lois., “Hamlet for Kids,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/31835.