JavaScript must be enabled on your browser for this PAC to work properly.

San Marcos Public Library
625 E. Hopkins • San Marcos, TX 78666 • 512.393.8200  •  smpl@sanmarcostx.gov 
  New Search About the Library Library Events My Account Hot Titles Research Links News & Weather Local History Photographs Subscribe to BookLetters
 

The Shakespeare stealer

by Gary L. Blackwood


Book Review

:

Publishers Weekly :

Terms of Use:

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 Widge, the 14-year-old narrator, is sent by a rival theater manager to steal the as-yet-unpublished Hamlet in 1601 London and ends up an apprenticing actor instead.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 hospital--this 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.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Terms

Book Review

:

School Library Journal :

Terms of Use:

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

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Terms


Back

 

Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC) Catalog Home Top of Page