Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Shakespeare for Children
The Story of Romeo and Juliet

by Cass Foster


In an attempt to introduce the characters, poetry, and concepts of William Shakespeare to children, author Cass Foster provides a 104-page, heavily edited, large-print version of the play Romeo and Juliet. The material is divided into acts, and preceded by a cast of characters and brief prologue. Some of the more difficult words appear in footnotes with explanations or definitions.

To abbreviate and simplify, Foster summarizes much of the play into prose, yet includes small portions of the original text to give young readers a taste of Shakespeare’s poetic form.  Nearly half the book contains simple illustrations from the text. Intended for children to read by themselves, or with a parent or teacher, the violence and sexuality of Shakespeare’s work are deliberately downplayed.

Helpful discussion questions at the back of the book ask children to think about their emotions as they read the story and to make judgments about the characters and the story. For example, Foster references Romeo caving in to peer pressure by attending the Capulet party. He then asks readers "What sort of things wouldn’t you do even if your friends wanted you to?"

There’s no shortage of other books that bring Shakespearean works to school-aged children, though this particular book was nominated for the Ben Franklin Children’s Storybook Award. Foster’s sincere appreciation for the original work seems evident in his presentation of the material. However, some of the book’s inconsistencies with regard to the definitions will leave readers curious.

For example, why are relatively common words such as "walk," "ghostly," and "bound" defined, but not "rancor," "rapier," and "lamentable?" Similarly, the word "prodigious" is defined with the word "ominous," which may not be any more understandable to young readers. With a handy adult (and a dictionary), children should enjoy this initial reading of Romeo and Juliet.

The Book

Five Star Publications
2007 (reprint)
096198533X / 978-0961985332
General Literary / Ages 9-12
More at

The Reviewer

Leslie Halpern
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Leslie Halpern is the author of Reel Romance: The Lovers' Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies, Dreams on Film, A Writer's Guide to Fearless Interviews, and the co-author of Connections: A Collection of Poems. Coming Soon: Passionate About Their Work: Celebrities, Artists, and Experts Discuss Creativity.
© 2009