09 June 2011

Library staff book review: "Hamlet" by Nicki Greenberg

Shortlisted in the picture book category for the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards, Hamlet: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, staged on the page by Nicki Greenberg is a stunning graphic work that will appeal to teenagers and adults alike.

Greenberg serves up a visual feast with her original take on Shakespeare’s classic tale of madness and revenge. Prince Hamlet, represented here as an inkblot, is a tortured soul who undertakes to avenge his father’s murder while despairing at the moral decay surrounding him. Love, desire, trickery, corruption, villainy and death all play a role here.

Greenberg brilliantly captures Hamlet’s descent into madness through her bold illustrations. Each page is a riot of colour and movement which can perhaps best be summed up by quoting the bard himself: ‘in form and moving how express and admirable’. With over 400 detail-packed pages, readers will discover something new with each re-reading. And this book does demand to be read more than once.

Hamlet isn’t Nicki Greenberg’s first foray into classic literature. Her graphic adaptation of The Great Gatsby beautifully portrayed the melancholy mood of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original novel. Let’s hope there are many more to come.

For newcomers to William Shakespeare this book would serve as a fabulous introduction to his work, while seasoned fans will equally enjoy this adaptation. If nothing else it should win an award for most creative use of doilies in a graphic work!

Click here to find copies of this and other Nicki Greenberg titles through Libraries ACT.