The Shakespeare Stealer
The Shakespeare Stealer

Series: Shakespeare Stealer Vol. 1   

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Annotation: 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.
Catalog Number: #268528
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Inventory Sale Inventory Sale
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition Date: 2000
Pages: 216 p.
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 0-14-130595-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-37097-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-14-130595-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-37097-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 97042987
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
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.
Horn Book
In a fast-paced story showcasing the Globe Theatre in its heyday, young Widge is sent by his master to steal a copy of Shakespeare's new play, 'Hamlet', but things go awry. Like 'Hamlet', Blackwood's story focuses on its protagonist's doubt and deliberation about his interrupted quest. Wry humor, cliffhanger chapter endings, and a plucky hero make this a fitting introduction to Shakespeare's world.
Kirkus Reviews
This latest from Blackwood (Beyond the Door, 1991) is a delightful and heartwarming romp through Elizabethan England. Narrator Widge, 14, resigned to leading the unremarkable life of an orphan, is bought by the self-serving Dr. Bright to learn his new "charactery" (shorthand), and become his secretary. Although Widge applies himself, Dr. Bright is nevertheless willing to sell the boy, for a mere ten pounds, to Simon Bass, a theatrical manager. He sends Widge to London, so that he can copy down the new play, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, and enable Bass to perform it without paying royalties. Once within the confines of the Globe Theater, however, Widge discovers a brave new world of friendship, fun, and backstage intrigue. Welcomed into the company as an aspiring apprentice, Widge is soon learning lines, practicing sword-fighting, and avoiding Bass's henchman. The Bard himself makes a cameo appearance, as do other famous members of the company. To his credit, Blackwood limns just how Widge, who has no theatrical aspirations, proves a talented and hard-working member of the troupe. Readers will find much to like in Widge, and plenty to enjoy in this gleeful romp through olde England. (Fiction. 9-12)
Publishers Weekly
This tale of a 14-year-old Yorkshire orphan sent by a rival theater manager to steal the as-yet-unpublished Hamlet in 1601 London """"excels in the lively depictions of Elizabethan stagecraft and street life,"""" wrote PW. Ages 10-14. (July)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 4-7--Young 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.--Sally Margolis, Barton Public Library, VT
Word Count: 47,688
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 28290 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.5 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q17108
Lexile: 780L
Guided Reading Level: X

A delightful adveture full of humor and heart set in Elizabethan England!

Widge is an orphan with a rare talent for shorthand. His fearsome master has just one demand: steal Shakespeare's play "Hamlet"--or else. Widge has no choice but to follow orders, so he works his way into the heart of the Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare's players perform. As full of twists and turns as a London alleyway, this entertaining novel is rich in period details, colorful characters, villainy, and drama.

* "A fast-moving historical novel that introduces an important era with casual familiarity." --School Library Journal, starred review

"Readers will find much to like in Widge, and plenty to enjoy in this gleeful romp through olde England" --Kirkus Reviews 

"Excels in the lively depictions of Elizabethan stagecraft and street life." --Publishers Weekly

An ALA Notable Book

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