This Norton Critical Edition is based on the Folio text of King Lear (carefully corrected prior to its printing in 1623). The editor has interpolated the best-known and most-often discussed passages from Quarto I (including the “mock-trial” scene) as is fully explained in both “A Note on the Text” and the annotations that accompany the play.
Each book opens with a list of characters and a description of the setting. Background information, a short synopsis, famous phrases from the play, and a biographical sketch of Shakespeare are also included. Described as titles for reluctant readers, each slim volume is written in large-sized font and includes full-color illustrations covering between two to five panels per age. All dialogue has been extracted from the original play, which exposes readers to Shakespearean language. Explanatory text boxes judiciously placed throughout the panels enhance readers' understanding of characters, actions, and events. With substantial front and back matter, these adaptations seem best suited for instructional purposes. Additional explanation, discussion, and further reading may be required if young readers are to understand the Shakespearean phrases and interlocking plots as well as the subject matter of these plays: madness, human suffering, suicide, revenge, and murder. However, the books will serve as introductions to the Bard for older, reluctant readers. Dunn's illustrations for Hamlet and King Lear were done in a straightforward style and have rich, dramatic colors. Espinosa's use of a limited color palette for A Midsummer Night's Dream suits the moonlight setting. This adaptation's inclusion of Puck's rhyming introduction to the characters is a delightful addition.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY