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Title:
The Shakespeare stealer
Author:
Blackwood, Gary L.
ISBN / ISSN:
0525458638
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
216 pages ; 22 cm
Abstract:
A young orphan boy is ordered by his master to infiltrate Shakespeare's acting troupe in order to steal the script of "Hamlet," but he discovers instead the meaning of friendship and loyalty.
Reading Level:
840 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.2 7.0 28290.
Awards Note:
Lone Star Reading list, 2000-2001.
Lexile Number:
840 Lexile.

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Kid/Juvenile Fiction Hardback book JFIC BLACKWOOD
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Summary

Summary

High jinks and high adventure fill every page of this exciting, panoramic novel set in Shakespeare's time. Widge, our hero, is a young orphan indentured to a cold, unscrupulous master because the young boy has a special talent'the ability to write a secret shorthand. The master is bent on getting hold of the script of Hamlet at any cost, so it becomes Widge's task to transcribe it'or else.This picaresque tale follows Widge as he hightails his way into the very heart of the Globe Theatre and Shakespeare's company of players. As full of twists as a London alleyway, this entertaining novel is rich in period details, colorful characters, villainy, drama, and chuckles.Swordplay and wordplay share the stage with pure fun, all of which will keep readers rapt to the final scene.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Set in Elizabethan England, Blackwood's fictional account of life at the Globe Theater is related by Widge, a 14-year-old apprentice sent to steal Shakespeare's plays for a rival theater company. The story begins with Widge's early years in the parish orphanage and his apprenticeship to Dr. Bright, who taught him an early form of shorthand. But Widge's next master is a sinister figure who threatens him with dire consequences if he does not succeed in copying Hamlet or stealing the Globe's closely guarded script. A wary country lad, Widge makes a wonderful guide to London and the Globe, since everything is remarkable to his unjaded eyes. Featuring sympathetic characters, an intriguing setting, and dark forces creating conflicts within Widge and around him, this historical novel makes an exciting introduction to the period and to Shakespearean theater. --Carolyn Phelan


Publisher's Weekly Review

A myriad of anachronisms mar this predictable tale of a Yorkshire orphan. Widge, the 14-year-old narrator, is sent by a rival theater manager to steal the as-yet-unpublished Hamlet in 1601 London and ends up an apprenticing actor instead. Blackwood (Wild Timothy), a playwright and amateur actor himself, clearly knows Shakespeare, but is a bit cloudy on some details of the Elizabethan era. Widge mentions square city blocks, describes his dinner kept warm on the back of the stove and notes that a man wounded in a duel had recovered in a hospitalÄthis in an age of unplanned cities, meals cooked over open fires and hospitals that were for terminally ill paupers. Blackwood excels, however, in the lively depictions of Elizabethan stagecraft and street life. Lonely outcast Widge is a sympathetic character, but his frequent shifts in voice from Yorkshire dialect to 20th-century American slang may be disconcerting to readers, and the villainy of Widge's nemesis seems all too familiar. Ages 9-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7ÄYoung Widge is an Elizabethan Oliver Twist with a talent for shorthand. Raised in an orphanage, he is apprenticed to an unprincipled clergyman who trains Widge to use a cryptic writing system that he's invented to pirate sermons from other rectors. Hired by a mysterious traveler, the boy is hauled off to London to attend performances of Hamlet in order to transcribe the script for another theater company. Naturally, all does not go smoothly, and in the course of trying to recover his stolen notebook, Widge goes to work at the Globe, eventually donning a dress and wig to play Ophelia before the queen. The true identity of the mysterious traveler provides a neat twist at the end. As in Wild Timothy (Atheneum, 1987; o.p.) and several of his other books, Blackwood puts a young boy in a sink-or-swim predicament in alien territory where he discovers his own strength. It's a formula with endless appeal. Not only must Widge survive physically, but he must also find his own ethical path having had no role models. When he is befriended by members of the acting company, he blossoms as he struggles with moral dilemmas that would never have dawned on him before. Tentative readers might be put off by Widge's Yorkshire dialect, but the words are explained in context. Wisely, much of the theater lingo is not explained and becomes just one more part of the vivid background through which the action moves. This is a fast-moving historical novel that introduces an important era with casual familiarity.ÄSally Margolis, Barton Public Library, VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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