FICTION

Flibbertigibbety Words: Young Shakespeare Chases Inspiration

Page Street. Sept. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781645670629.
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Gr 2-4–Young William Shakespeare tries to catch words but the ones that fly through his window are “flibbertigibbety” words that he has to pursue. Through the cobbled streets and past a horse-drawn carriage carrying the king and his daughters, William loses the words at the water’s edge before picking up the chase in the woods where they hover in a witch’s brew (“Fair is foul and foul is fair: hover through the fog”). Finally, William’s vain efforts and resulting frustration are eased when the town peddler presents him with paper and pen. As memories of his busy day flood in, so do words with William “coaxing them onto the page to stay forever.” Shakespearean phrases in highly stylized colored text curl and curve around the pages to such a degree that legibility is sometimes sacrificed. His seesawing emotions make for some abrupt transitions: sadness at losing track of the words at the water contrasts with him cheerfully chasing of new ones on the next page. Digital and traditional illustrations depict the Elizabethan time period as backdrop for the rosy-cheeked impish William and his unruly words. Back matter includes an author’s note, a list of phrases appearing in the book (and their respective Shakespearean plays), as well as a bibliography (although some sources may not be accessible for the intended audience).
VERDICT An energetic story, driven by merry phrasing, will introduce the playwright and some of his famous quotes to younger readers and encourage budding wordsmiths.

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