Dark and bloody drama of ambition, guilt, and revenge.
Based on an HBO animated series, these condensations emphasize the dramatic content of some of Shakespeare's best known works. As abridged by Garfield in consultation with a panel of scholars, the books on the whole retain the magic of Shakespeare's vision and remain true to his poetics. Linguistic fluidity is perforce sacrificed (omitted lines are presented as italicized summaries interspersed throughout the dialogue), but these versions should still fire children's imaginations. Though the artwork varies in quality, the Eastern European illustrators generally capture the underlying theatrics. Palettes are subdued for the dramas, and appropriately brighter for the comedies (though the tone reproductions frequently seem off). Several plays' illustrations have a cartoony appearance; a few exhibit the stilted look of old Classics Comics. While the plays forgo their complexities--many subplots are omitted--as they become more linear in their themes (Macbeth loses much of his humanity, Romeo and Juliet is pared of its politics), their nobility shines through in these visualized introductions. One hopes that readers will be encouraged to move on to the originals. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)