The Bard and the Book: How the First Folio Saved the Plays of William Shakespeare from Oblivion

Peachtree. Apr. 2024. 112p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781682634950.
Gr 5-10–“Alas and alack, if so, for you have been misled to think that a dead poet with an earring from more than four hundred years ago has nothing to offer you.” So says the opening lines of this truly unique collection of lost history dedicated to William Shakespeare and his famous plays. The longevity of the writer and the works is due in part to a group of people who made the choice to preserve his collection of writing after he died. Thank goodness for this endeavor, as from it evolved a now famous book known as the First Folio, without which the Bard may not have become a household name. This craftily written behind-the-scenes look is the perfect introduction to both the author and his writings. Bausum’s passion for history and its impact on generations of readers is infectious. She provides a lively nonfiction read on an intriguing subject, especially for Shakespeare aficionados—but it does not ignore the skeptics as she artfully threads Shakespearean notions together, providing a humorous glimpse into a period of time that spotlights a literary turning point. Sevilla splashes the pages with bold, colorful, unconventional visuals, demanding pause and perusal within Bausum’s extensive narrative.
VERDICT A voluminous book centering the historical playwright, along with a group of people who saved him from outright oblivion, this is a sharply funny, delightful must-have for every library shelf.

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