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THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER by Gary L. Blackwood

THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER

By Gary L. Blackwood

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-45863-8
Publisher: Dutton

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)