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|Ira's Shakespeare dream|
Author: Armand, Glenda
A biography chronicling the life of Ira Aldridge, an African American actor who is considered to be one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the nineteenth century.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: .5 Quiz: 178029
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 67299
Common Core Standards
Grade 3 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 3.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 3 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 3.RI Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Kirkus Reviews (04/15/15)
School Library Journal (+) (06/01/15)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 06/01/2015 Most students are likely unfamiliar with the story of Ira Aldridge, the nineteenth-century black American actor who rose to fame on the English stage. At the time, a free black man was unlikely to win speaking parts in mainstream theater in the U.S. But for Ira, the lure of the stage, and especially the works of Shakespeare, was strong. Ira’s father wanted him to use his oratory skills to become a preacher, but Ira defied his father’s wishes, spending his time gaining acclaim as a performer at a black theater. When two British actors offered him passage to England, he left New York and made a name for himself in Europe, notably becoming the first black actor to play Othello on stage. Cooper’s realistic, warm oil paintings have a grainy appearance, which imparts the haze of age without reducing the vitality of the figures. Meanwhile, Armand’s engaging paragraphs, peppered with Shakespearean lines, artfully relay Ira’s passion, trepidation, and eventual boldness as he follows his dreams. A valuable addition to any biography collection. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 06/01/2015 Gr 3–6—Though his acting earned him fame and a knighthood in Europe, Ira Aldridge is hardly a household name in his homeland, but this attractive picture book biography may change that. Born in New York City in 1807, Aldridge fell in love with acting as he sat in the balcony of the whites-only Park Theatre, watching the performances from afar. His dream grew wings at the African Grove, a new all-black venue, where he could sit wherever he liked. However, Aldridge's father insisted that his son follow in his footsteps and become a minister. Frustrated and seeking adventure, Aldridge left home to serve as cabin boy on a ship headed South. When a man offered to buy him from the captain for $500 and Aldridge witnessed other, less fortunate blacks on the auction block, he became angry and afraid. At 17, he decided to sail to England, where he would be free of his country's inhumanity and his father's expectations. Working his way up from errand boy to understudy, he eventually became "one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors in Europe." Aldridge was also a vocal abolitionist, addressing audiences and raising money for the cause. The third-person narration invites readers into Ira's world and thoughts, incorporating Shakespearean verse where appropriate. Cooper's signature oil wash illustrations, created with kneaded eraser, beautifully capture the period and subjects' emotions. The palette of somber browns spring to life, complemented by the vivid colors of the stage and costumes. VERDICT Use this handsome, inspiring offering to enrich units on Shakespeare, theater, or black history.—Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.