Lee & Low Books
A True Tale
with A Cherry On Top
A uthor: Glenda Armand
and Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
C haracter: Ira Aldridge
O verview from book flap:
"For as long as he could remember, Ira Aldridge dreamed of performing the famous plays of William Shakespeare. Ira spent every chance he got at the theater, memorizing the actors' lines and movements. He knew he could be a great Shakespearean actor if only given the chance. But in the early 1800s in New York City, options for black actor were mostly limited to musical numbers.
Determined to pursue his dream, Ira set off to England, the land of Shakespeare. He soon encountered the same roadblocks and discrimination he faced back home...[but] through hard work and perseverance... the young man with a dream became one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors in the world.
Ira's Shakespeare Dream is a captivating tribute to the life of Ira Aldridge, and to the enduring magic of Shakespeare's works to inspire people of all backgrounds."
T antalizing taste:
"Even as Ira's dream was coming true, he never forgot about his people back home and the nightmare off slavery. Sometimes, at the close of a performance, Ira came out of character and sat on the edge of the stage.
He preached to the audience about the injustice of slavery. He told them that, although he was born free, he had once come close to being sold into slavery. Audiences were moved as Ira recounted for them the cruelties had had witnessed."
and something more: Last weekend at the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles, I enjoyed meeting Glenda Armand, the author of Ira's Shakespeare Dream. She "is passionate about sharing accounts of little-known African American trailblazers. Her hope is that these stories will inspire new generations of young dreamers to persevere despite any obstacles they may face."
The book's Afterword explains that "perhaps the greatest honor" Ira received is shown on "a bronze plaque inscribed with his name at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, at Stratford-upon-Avon, England, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Ira Frederick Aldridge is the only African American among the thirty-three actors to have received this recognition."