"Shakespeare's Menagerie" is a delightful book that is inspired by William Shakespeare's less known phrases about animals. The author uses them as her inspiration for her book of illustration of animals. She searches through Shakespeare’s works that mention animals and gives her own interpretation by drawing them. The question, "What's your dark meaning mouse, of this dark world?", thus leads to the drawing of a mouse with two legs apart and fingers on its mouth. The next phrase is, "It is the bright day that brings forth the adder, and it shows us a seemingly smiling adder, ready to face the world." This phrase is taken from Act II, Scene I of the play "Julius Caesar", and was spoken by Marcus Brutus. All the phrases and illustrations are labeled so that the book also gives us some interesting information about Shakespeare's works.
Laudea Martin is certainly a gifted illustrator and the idea to search through the voluminous works of Shakespeare for any mention of animals as inspiration in her book is simply unique and intriguing. Her book "Shakespeare's Menagerie" is the second book in the 'Shakespeare Paragon series' and it pairs her illustrations with Shakespeare's animals, so to speak. Her illustrations are simple so that there is no distraction to the eye. What comes out is the shape and volume of the animals combined with a texture that is achieved by expertly manipulating the color tone. This is a minimalist approach that is quite successful in driving the point in a straightforward and simple way. This is a book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It surely improved my knowledge of Shakespeare's less known phrases and made me aware of the fact that there is more to the minimalist style than meets the eye. A great way to introduce Shakespeare to the kids too!