My Name is Not Peaseblossom (Jackie French, HarperCollins)
Much-loved children’s author Jackie French brings us a new addition to her Shakespeare series with My Name is Not Peaseblossom. French has previously reinterpreted Shakespeare’s work, giving it a 21st-century spin with the titles I am Juliet and Ophelia. In her latest novel for readers aged 11 and up, she reimagines Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Fairy Peaseblossom is used to fulfilling the wishes of his King and Queen and accepts the role he plays as cupid among humans and fairies. But when he meets the selkie Gaela, he starts to question what love really is and whether it is something that should be meddled with. He discovers that there is something powerful about having the freedom to make your own choices, even if they turn out to be mistakes. My Name is Not Peaseblossom has all the classic characters of Shakespeare’s play but French weaves her own magic into the plot by adding vampires, a selkie and a sea serpent, along with the best pizza in the world. By melding the old and the new, French cleverly raises questions about free will and the abuse of power. This book is a perfect classroom companion for students studying the play and, with teachers notes available, will become a valued resource. It is also a wonderful read for anyone whether they are discovering A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the first time or revisiting the classic tale.
M H Alessandrino is a Perth-based writer and freelance reviewer