Literary Critters: William Shakesbear’s Journey for Inspiration

Zonderkidz. Aug. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780310734093.
Gr 1-2–Who doesn’t love a good pun? Shakespeare did, so perhaps he’d like William Shakesbear, too. It is William’s winter of discontent for he is full of “unspiration.” He goes for a walk where he meets Mole Dahl, who has some Wonka Choc—say, this book is sending readers off to other books and other writers, as Corrigan (Pugtato, etc.) finds wordplay, swordplay, punnery, and quipping all to her liking. William does not wish to hibernate, but seeks someone with “storytelling sense and sensibility,” and now things are becoming a bit strained for the picture book audience, till they come across a rabbit named Peter and his relative Benjamin, who inspire Beatrix Trotter no end. Yak Kerouac, Edgar Talon Crow, C.S. Shrewis, and more are all part of this exhausting pointless parade, and despite the many clever touches, this picture book never really finds its feet.
VERDICT Despite characteristically whimsical and delicious watercolors of the very English pastoral countryside, leave this book in Mr. MacGregor’s garden. Children will shift in their seats, waiting for the story to start, but it never does.

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