Who Was William Shakespeare? This was the book – of all those on the display table – that attracted me most. I headed through the groups of businesswomen and picked it up. Who Was William Shakespeare? by Celeste Davidson Mannis, I read on the back cover, was part of a series called ‘WhoHQ’, and published by Penguin. Just next to the WhoHQ books on the table was a number of ‘Classic Football Heroes’ books. Out of these ones I recognised the name ‘Rooney’ and picked it up. I was so interested to see history-cum-biographical books aimed at primary school/early teen children that I bought them both (the former for R95, the latter for R135) and took them home to read.
Who Was William Shakespeare?, I learnt, is a clearly well-researched book about this famous playwright. It discusses in chronological order Shakespeare’s early life, family, and career. At the back of the book are two timelines: one for Shakespeare’s life, the other for historical events that took place during his lifetime. The book essentially uses these two timelines and posits theories as to how historical events may have influenced why, when and how Shakespeare wrote his plays. Not much is known of Shakespeare’s personal life and this method of using history to explain why/how he may have written The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard III and MacBeth, for instance, makes a lot of sense. The story is fascinating and because of its simple style, eminently accessible. I highly recommend it as a teaching tool and a way of instilling in children a love of (Shakespearean) literature in years to come.
Rooney, I was told by Janine O’Connor of Books & Books, was part of a series aimed at young teen boys. Many youngsters have football heroes and love playing football themselves. But they may not like reading, she explained. Rooney (and others in the series) was a way of giving these youngsters something they would like to read. Rooney is a great story about the rise of famous footballer Wayne Rooney who played for Everton, England and then Manchester United. Sentences are short and the story positive and exciting. At the end of the book is a list of ‘Great Moments’. After being drawn in by the fast-paced storytelling I looked up these Great Moments on YouTube and enjoyed watching some of what I had just read. Like Who Was Shakespeare? I can recommend this issue of the Classic Football Heroes to reluctant readers. I feel sure they will be drawn in by a topic that fascinates and a style that thoroughly engages.
Contact Janine O’Connor, Books & Books, firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase copies.