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Review: ‘Manga Classics: Romeo and Juliet’

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Today I’m happy to present a guest review by manga expert Erica Friedman, who holds an MLS from Rutgers University and writes about and reviews manga on Okazu.

RJ1Romeo and Juliet
Written by William Shakespeare, Adapted by Crystal S. Chan, Illustrated by Julien Choy
Manga Classics
Grades 9-11

“Shakespeare has to be seen to be understood.” We’ve all heard this a thousand times and, if we have actually had the chance to see a Shakespeare play, we probably agree. Nonetheless, schools all over North America assign Shakespeare’s plays as reading assignments, leaving students to struggle with the meter, the language, and the puns. The folks at Manga Classics wanted to make Shakespeare a little more approachable and took the opportunity to turn mandatory school reading into action—and romance—filled manga.

RJ3Romeo and Juliet works very well in this format. From the street brawls of the Montague and Capulet boys to the lover’s final moments, the pages are filled with all the elements of any popular drama. It would be easy enough to encourage a young reader who loved the Twilight series or Game of Thrones to try out this rollicking tale of love and loss.

The team at Manga Classics has really gone the extra step to make it work, too, with drawings based on sites and scenes around Verona and an adaptation that seeks to blend the visuals with the words. Chan and Choy’s various endnotes were fascinating, each giving you a sense of the depth with which the adaptation and art was approached; from the different swords used by the principals to the gorgeous illustration of Fairy Queen Mab. This single volume contains the entire play, with all the characters and lines intact. This painstaking detail works just the way it’s supposed to, making this book a terrific replacement for reading a dry text or skipping the story altogether in favor of notes.

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Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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