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Reviewed by Gail Wickman for Readers' Favorite
Laudea Martin's picture book "Shakespeare's Zoo" illustrates lines from Shakespeare that mention specific animals. The illustrations are created by digitally layering colored textures. The camel, for example, appears to be made of burlap. The robin's back has a woodgrain look. Each page contains a heading giving the source of the quotation -- the work, the line and the character who said it and to whom. This book is a companion to "Shakespeare's Menagerie" and is included in the volume "Shakespeare’s Complete Paragon".
The illustrations are lovely, and the use of the textured layers makes the viewer slow down and really look. Part of the fun, after all, is figuring out where the textures come from. The book also works well as a label book for small children; they will learn the names of the various animals and have their ear tuned to poetry at the same time. The pages don't carry a story arc, however, so older children may not find it as appealing. The headings on the pages cause a couple of problems too. Since they are typographically large, they scream that they are important, yet the information they give is really only useful to people who already know a lot about Shakespeare. There isn't enough information given to provide the context for readers who aren't familiar with the work. Additionally, there is one illustration from "The Rape of Lucrece". I'm not a prude, but I wouldn't want to have to explain "rape" to my four year old.