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Shakespeare's secret

by Elise Broach


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School Library Journal :

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Gr 4-7–Hero has always hated her Shakespearean-based name, for, as her new sixth-grade classmates are quick to tell her, it's better suited to a dog than to a girl. Resigned to their constant teasing, she concentrates instead on her newfound friendship with her kindly, if somewhat eccentric, elderly next-door neighbor. Mrs. Roth tells Hero about the missing â??Murphy Diamond,â?? a precious jewel that supposedly disappeared from the house where Hero now lives. Mrs. Roth has the necklace that once held the diamond, an heirloom that possibly once belonged to Anne Boleyn, and she is convinced that it is still hidden in the vicinity. She and Hero set out to find what the police could not, and, with help from Danny, a popular yet self-assured eighth grader who befriends them both, they succeed. Only then do the real connections among the three of them come to the surface and change their lives forever. The mystery alone will engage readers, but Broach adds a number of other interesting details to entice her audience. Readers will also find numerous facts about Elizabethan history, theories about Shakespeare's writings, and, perhaps most importantly, a moral but not preachy tale. The main characters are all well developed, and the dialogue is both realistic and well planned. Girls will relate to Hero and the defenses that she uses to protect herself from being hurt by the cruel comments and behaviors of difficult classmates. This is a good choice for recreational reading but also useful as an intro to either the complexities of Shakespeare or the tenets of good mystery writing.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI

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