Title: The Shakespeare Stealer
Author: Gary Blackwood
Major Themes: Drama, Globe Theater, London, Shakespeare
Synopsis: When an orphan is sent to the Globe Theater to steal one of Shakespeare’s plays, will he fulfill his mission?
The Shakespeare Stealer is quite an engrossing story. Young Widge (the only name he knows; it was his nickname at the orphanage in which he lived until he was seven years old) has been taught to write in shorthand by his master, the apothecary and rector to whom he is apprenticed. Widge has no control of his fate; all he can do is what he is ordered to do, and thinking for himself is not possible. Then one day, when he is 14, everything suddenly changes.
A mysterious, hooded stranger appears at the apothecary one evening, asking Dr. Bright about learning the shorthand he developed, and ends up buying Widge because he knows how to write it. They head towards London immediately, and Widge is sent to the Globe Theater to write down the script for Hamlet as it is played. Widge finds himself so engrossed in the story that he misses great portions of the story, and must go back to hear the play again. The surprising twists and turns that follow will keep you guessing what comes next as Widge’s life again changes completely.
Loyalty, honesty, and friendship—three things that Widge knew nothing about before. Will these new concepts be stronger than the fear that has kept him bound so far in his life? Will he ever be truly free and able to pursue his own dreams?
Shakespeare and the Globe Theater, as well as London in the 1500s, are vividly brought to life in this fast-paced story. Even though this was our second time to read the story aloud, we could hardly put it down.
WARNING: There is a fair amount of swearing, generally using words such as “Gog’s blood.” I noted it in chapters 3, 5, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 21, 23, 24 and 27 (pages 17, 34, 90, 95, 103, 104, 121, 127, 162, 168, 179, 186, 188, 188, and 214). Also, in chapter 27 a man is killed in a duel.[
Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15