Srsly Hamlet

9780553535389. ea vol: 192p. (OMG Shakespeare). Random. 2015. Tr. $9.99. ebk. $9.99.
Gr 8 Up—These titles strip Shakespearean plays of Elizabethan language and iambic pentameter, rendering modern retellings utilizing text slang littered with emojis. Content-wise, the authors remain true to the original story lines with no major omissions. Stylistically, the format has inherent strengths and weaknesses. Students will immediately understand "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have cheF*cked into Elsinore Castle" and this quite literally sets the scene. Yet, the reality of texting is that people are not face-to-face; thus, the text narrative format creates some clumsily contrived situations. For example, Romeo and Juliet arrive at the church to marry, and then precede to text their love to each other. Visualizing Romeo and Juliet together at the chapel, heads down texting, may cause readers to LOL, and as attempts at satire, these books definitely succeed. There is no shortage of WTF, STFU, and the like, yet F*ck is listed in the glossary (to define said shortcuts for adult readers unfamiliar with text-speak, one assumes). Students will no doubt recognize the many emojis, although Friar Laurence's use of an emoji representing a smiling pile of excrement is a bit much. This series raises an interesting question: what would Shakespeare's plays look like in today's world? Having students already familiar with the Bard's work compose text- and emoji-style retellings would make for a fun assignment.
VERDICT More satirical than tragic and tirelessly trendy.

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