John Marsden has taken the tragedy of Hamlet and reworked it into an engaging and highly readable novel. I first read this novel when I was in high school and it has resonated with me since. Recently I picked it up again and found delight in reading it several years later, and from a teacher’s perspective.
It is hard to teach Shakespeare in a way that actually gets across to the students, and this novel is a tool that would be immensely helpful. I wouldn’t say that I would use this novel instead of the original play, but I would use sections of the play to further understanding of the play. To look at certain scenes and compare them with the original text would provide an exercise that enables students to consider the creative license people use in interpreting and re-writing the text. This novel would also be a great exemplar if I wanted students to rewrite scenes in their own words.
The characters in this novel are portrayed in a way that is relatable to students, and the prose enables students to connect with the characters because it break down the language barrier.