Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler

Shakespeare's greatest love story has never been so unlovely!
The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo . . . until the gates shut at night. That's when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare's greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they've got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.
Ian Lendler's hilarious tale of afterhours animal stagecraft is perfectly paired with the adorable,
accessible artwork of Zack Giallongo (Broxo, Ewoks) in this sidesplitting companion to their graphic novel The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.
When Ian Lendler was younger, he really enjoyed acting in the theater. He was, however, extremely terrible at it. So he became a writer of children's books (An Undone Fairy Tale and Saturday) and nonfiction. He took a day job deworming animals at the StratfordonAvon Zoo.
Zack Giallongo is a professional cartoonist, cheese enthusiast, and amateur banjoist. His first solo graphic novel, Broxo, is about teenage barbarians and was published in 2012. It hit #4 on the New York Times Bestsellers list.

This might be the most memorable and fun adaptations of Romeo and Juliet I've ever read.

In The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet, animals at a zoo perform their version of Romeo and Juliet for an audience composed of other animals at the zoo.

I immediately assumed that this would be more or less like other adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, albeit performed by animals. It didn't occur to me, though, that since this is meant mostly for children, things are changed up a bit. Specifically, instead of being romantically involved, Romeo and Juliet want to be best friends. Also, instead of dates, the two of them go on a playdate. There are hints of the romance element, though, in the form of the occasional heart/love-dovey look. I really liked this idea. It's more relatable for the younger kids, and it feels like a fresh take on an old story.

I liked the idea of including audience reactions. The audience actually had funnier lines than the play. The vultures, in particular, made me laugh. However, I was a little creeped out by the eyes of some of the animal audience members.

Another thing I liked was the use of notes to cast members and crew at the end of the book to explain and include trivia about the original play. It was quite smart and there was no breaking of the fourth wall.

Overall, I felt it was a commendable adaptation. It's a great way to introduce younger kids to Romeo and Juliet, although they might be in for a surprise once they read the real thing.

Thanks to NetGalley and First Second for the e-ARC.


  1. It's a great way to introduce younger kids to Romeo and Juliet.
  2. It's a very funny book.
  3. It's a new take on a classic. 


  1. I found some of the audience members' eyes a little bit creepy. 


  1. You want to introduce your child to Romeo and Juliet.
  2. Your child likes comic books.
  3. You like adaptations. 



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