A Horse With Wings is a new children’s book that introduces children to Shakespeare by having characters from his plays sing songs. The journey from the idea to create the book and its completion is an interesting one. A few years ago, Daeshin Kim and his wife, Sohyun An, moved their family from Los Angeles to Paris. A big adventure, to be sure. The Kims wanted their children to learn French through immersion in French culture, and they were looking for a change of scene. What they found in Paris was the challenge their children faced adjusting to their new surroundings. What they also discovered was the power of music to help them get used to their new life in a new country. The family listened to all kinds of music: English, Korean, and French songs, and they sang along to the sounds and danced to the rhythms present in the music.
Daeshin Kim says that, “the way that music helped our daughter to acclimatise to life in a new country really opened our eyes (and ears!) to the power of music, and our ideas to create children’s songs (with the added bonus of having each song sung from the point of view of a character from Shakespeare) is well documented.” He even wrote about it on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s myShakespeareblog. Inspired, the Kims recorded some sample songs, sung by their daughter.
Their journey took them to Kickstarter, a website where people can pitch ideas to raise funds and help to make their project a reality. Daeshin Kim listed his plan for the book, posted a video about it and, according to him, the fundraising effort resulted in the largest amount of money raised for a children’s book on the site, ever. And somewhere along the way, Folger Education became aware of this work and began to follow its development all the way to the actual production of the book, A Horse With Wings, which was released last December.
A Horse With Wings contains 16 songs, composed and performed by the Kims, including their then five-year-old daughter. The vibrant illustrations were done by Sohyun An. Each page has lyrics expressing the point of view of the character from a Shakespeare play on a variety of topics and issues most children will be able to connect with, as well as a line directly from the text of the play. For example, in one of the songs Hamlet sings about Yorick, the court jester, who entertained him in his youth. In another, Juliet wonders what’s in a name.
There is a free parents’ and teachers’ guide available as a PDF file. An iPad app is scheduled to be released this spring. To be sure, these are exciting times for the Kims, and it can be a great opportunity to introduce youngsters to Shakespeare, too.
Full disclosure here: I was asked to write the foreword to the book, which I was happy to do. The book is getting a lot of positive response. Daeshin and his daughter were recently interviewed on CBS in Los Angeles, and he’s expected to be part of Folger Education’s conference on teaching Shakespeare in the elementary school in June. For more information about A Horse With Wings, visit our Shop. Happy Reading — and listening!