Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Will's Words

During the summer my son took me to New York City specifically to see as many Broadway shows as possible. I had been to NYC one other time, but my trip (planned for over a year) coincided with the first Stagehands Strike in the union's 121-year history! To say I was devastated is an understatement, but I have always been told things work out the way they are supposed to. I guess this trip proves the point because I had the most fantastic time I could have ever dreamed of having with my son.

While planning the trip he asked me what I wanted to see when we got to New York. I told him the only show I really wanted to see was Something Rotten! and he could choose the rest of the shows. I had only seen a short preview of the show while watching The 69th Annual Tony Awards earlier in the summer, but I was completely taken with the story line, music, and actors from the moment the curtains were raised.

If you don't know about Something Rotten!, and you love musical theater you should check it out. As soon as we left the theater (after staying around long enough to take pictures and get autographs from all of the leads, of course) I downloaded the soundtrack and listened to it all night.

Will's Words: How William Shakespeare
Changed the Way You Talk
by Jane Sutcliffe
illustrated by John Shelley

I bring up this musical because while reading Jane Sutcliffe's Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk my mind kept going back to the theater and the staging of the show. John Shelley's beautiful illustrations provide a wonderful example of the layout of London and remind me fondly of the stage set for Something Rotten! Painstaking detail can be found on each two-page spread.  Jane Sutcliffe's creative text tells the story of London and the popularity of the theater while carefully including the phrases Shakespeare originally penned and we now all use routinely. Words and phrases are bold within the text of the story (printed within a colorfully framed box) and then "Will's Words" are defined and cited showing the work in which the words originally appeared. A time line of events from 1564 (the year Shakespeare was christened) to 1997 (the year the modern Globe opened in London) appears at the end of the book along with a Bibliography.

Here are a few of the phrases used within the text:

  • "for goodness' sake"
  • "what's done is done"
  • "wild-goose chase"
  • "fashionable"
  • "money's worth"
  • "heart's content"
  • "well behaved"
  • "laughed themselves into stitches"
Not only is this a fascinating look at the influence William Shakespeare has had on the spoken word, it is also a very interesting history of his works and the legacy this master left for us all. I would highly recommend this book for all levels of school libraries, but I think it would have the most impact on high school students as far as understanding the works they are generally required to read during their final years of public school. I believe this could start an interest in Shakespeare's work for younger students if they were to read this book and see how the words and phrases we say and hear have been around for hundreds of years. Wills Words would also be a great gift to any fan of The Bard.

This book will be released on March 22, 2016.

* To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Charlesbridge has provided a complimentary electronic copy of Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk for review purposes. My review is in no way influenced by the publishing company and is strictly my opinion.