What Is the Story of Romeo and Juliet?

What Is the Story of Romeo and Juliet?
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
December 26, 2023
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Who HQ brings you the stories behind the most well-known characters of our time.

Discover the origins of one of literature's most famous couples, Romeo and Juliet, and their creator, William Shakespeare, in this fun and informative addition to the What Is the Story Of? series.

In 1597, Shakespeare debuted his newest play, a tragedy about a young Italian couple whose families were sworn enemies. Romeo and Juliet quickly became one of the most famous couples in literary history, and this play became one of Shakespeare's most performed shows. But did you know that much of Romeo and Juliet's story was adapted from tales by other writers? Learn all about how William Shakespeare's dynamic and romantic teenage duo sprouted from the Italian story of The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet in 1562 and grew into adaptions like West Side Story and even Gnomeo & Juliet in this nonfiction book for young readers.

Editor review

1 review
Informative and Intriguing
(Updated: March 28, 2024)
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
There's quite a bit to unpack in Bisantz's story covering the history of Romeo and Juliet.

We receive a history lesson, a biography of William Shakespeare, and coverage of the multiple iterations of Romeo and Juliet that exist, plus additional school-type lessons. I honestly had no idea that Romeo and Juliette was essential a retelling, a few times over. Shakespeare's version is by far the most famous and well known version.

We receive many lessons about Shakespeare's life before he became a writer/poet, as well as history lessons about Queen Elizabeth I and the Bubonic Plague. We also learn about different types of poetry used Shakespeare used in his plays.
These "lessons" are like an aside in the middle of the chapter. I feel this makes the reading a bit clunky and suited more for older readers that can focus on more than one plot at a time.
I feel the author was pushing Romeo and Juliet as romantic love story too much, but at the same time I can understand that being more palatable for younger audiences.

The illustrations are basic black ink, like one would find in a news paper. They are beautiful in their simplicity, A far cry from the cover image, which I personally found a bit off putting.

What Is the Story of Romeo and Juliet? would be great for elementary or intermediate age students interested in learning about the featured person/topic and to help prepare them for the more challenging reading to come, in this case Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.
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