All the World's a Stage

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This collection of 21 poems offers perspectives on the ever-changing stages of human life, framed by the famous "Seven Ages of Man" monologue in William Shakespeare's As You Like It.


What a smashing book. Once again you've come up with an anthology built around a really fresh and original idea. Creative Editions has done a handsome job, and having the great Guy Billout illustrate it is a double plus. I'd guess that the book will appeal to readers of ANY age.

X.J. Kennedy, poet, , June 2013

Illustrated by Guy Billout. Using Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from As You Like It as his armature, Hopkins has chosen two or three poems for each life stage. The poignant, funny, or thought-provoking poems stem from a range of poetsElizabeth Barrett Browning and Lewis Carroll to contemporaries such as Janet S. Wong and Paul Janeczko. Surrealistic illustrations reminiscent of Magritte and Escher create intriguing settings.

The Horn Book , March 2014

Poet and anthologist Hopkins uses the 7 stages in the famous "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from William Shakespeare's As You Like It as the framework for a collection of 21 poems reflecting on the journey of life. The varied selections range from a traditional Nigerian lullaby and works by Walt Whitman and Lewis Carroll to two poems by Hopkins himself. Each stage is represented by three poems and introduced with a mannered yet surreal double-page illustration framed by columns suggesting a theater, as well as the first few words from Shakespeare's monologue that are specific to the segment. The pages with the poems are artistically balanced, featuring text in a small, plain font and one or two illustrations against a stark white background. Each of the illustrations, symbolic in nature, have only one or two small characters placed in a vast expanse of space, exuding a sense of coldness and loneliness that is often in contrast to the tenderness of the poems; "Act Four's War" is particularly heart-wrenching. Though somewhat slight, this is thought-provoking, beautifully designed, and enjoyable.

Randall Enos, Booklist , December 2013

Like the old man's house, Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" speech is "a world too wide" to be well-served by this paltry selection of 21 poems, three per "age." Hopkins tries to inject some color into the mix with Walt Whitman's "When I heard the learn'd astronomer," Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How do I love thee?" and Lewis Carroll's "You are old, father William." Unfortunately, these, combined with passages from the speech itself, only make his other choices look anemic. To the "infant,/Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms," for instance, Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers a bland "Amazing, your face./Amazing"; on the facing page, a "traditional Nigerian lullaby" is stripped of music: "Sleep my baby near to me./Lu lu lu lu lu lu." Along with Joan Bransfield Graham's "A Soldier's Letter to a Newborn Daughter," which ends with a condescending "I'm coming home/to my girls"/With All My Love,/DAD," most of the rest are cast in prosaic free verse. Hopkins' "Curtain," probably written for this collection closes the set with theatrical imagery. Billout supplies pale, distant views of small figures and some surreal element in largely empty settingsappropriate, considering the poetry, but they lack either appeal for young audiences or any evocation of the Shakespearean lines' vigorous language and snarky tone. A poor performance, "[s]ans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

Kirkus , September 2013

Building from Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" monologue from As You Like It, Hopkins organizes this collection of poetry according to the seven ages, labeling them "Entrances," "Childhood," "Love," "War," "Adulthood," "Aged," and "Exits" and allotting three poems for each. Every section opens with a spread of a theater with each life stage portrayed inside, beginning with "At first the infant," and taking readers through to the "Last Scene" stae. The stark, surreal art delivers small bites of emotion and symbolism. The 21 selections come from a range of poets, mixing Walt Whitman and Lewis Carroll with modern children's poets such as Janet S. Wong and Kate Coombs. The unique concept behind this book allows readers to look at both the monologue and the poetry in a new way. While the picture book trim size suggests younger readers, the content will resonate most for those with more life experience to bring to it. An explanatory introduction in included.

Julie Roach, School Library Journal , January 2014

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