Swedish / Sweden
Höglund, Anna (illus.)
Stockholm: Karneval förlag, . –  p.
Shakespeare, William / Hamlet | Intrigue | Death | Picture book
White Ravens issue: 2019
Reading age: 4+
To craft Shakespeare’s monumental play “Hamlet” into a picture book for the very young is quite a feat! Told using language that is elliptical, very rhythmic, and laconic in its simplicity, this re-telling brings out the play’s essential dramaturgical and plot elements: Love, intrigue, betrayal, doubt, grief, insanity, death. It all ends with: “Nu alla döda. Gonatt, gonatt!“ (Everyone dead. Good night, Good night!). The colour palette is muted, the moon shines ominously. Anna Höglund portrays Hamlet with bunny ears, Ophelia as a fox, Hamlet’s uncle and step-father Claudius as a rat. The animal characters that she frequently works with have an alienating effect. Höglund plays with familiar connotations, anticipated by the animal characters but also subverted by them. The book does not avoid the cruelty nor the great tragedy of the Shakespearean piece; as a result, it reveals the play’s anthropological constants. This can be unsettling, but also creates the potential for insight.