The Shakespeare Stealer

by Gary Blackwood

Fourteen-year-old Widge is an orphan living in a small village in Elizabethan England.... read more

Fourteen-year-old Widge is an orphan living in a small village in Elizabethan England. Theater owner Simon Bass has just purchased Widge from the minister to whom Widge was apprenticed, intent on having the boy steal Shakespeare's new play, Hamlet. Widge's job is to sit in the audience of the Globe Theater in London and copy the play down word for word as it is performed, using the special shorthand method that the minister had taught him. To make sure Widge follows through, Bass sends him to London in the company of the harsh and mysterious Falconer, a man who conjures images of the devil and Death in Widge's lively mind. Widge, who has never been out of rural England, is as awed by the drama of the theater as he is by the grand and dangerous city of London. Swept up in the action of the first performance of Hamlet that he attends, he fails to write most of it down. Fearful of Falconer's reaction, he returns to the theater intent on stealing the one written copy of the play. Instead, Widge slips out of Falconer's grasp and into the embrace of the company of actors at the Globe, where he is taken on as an errand boy and apprentice to a life on the stage. But the shadow of fear never leaves Widge--he knows Falconer is still in the city, watching for him, waiting for him to produce a copy of the play.Tension, drama, and period details heighten the reading experience of this highly original, fast-paced story with a colorful cast of characters. (Ages 10-13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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