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Grade 5-8-In this newest addition to the series, the apprentice Widge becomes a spy to determine who is stealing scripts of Shakespeare's latest play from the Lord Chamberlain's Men. After a loud argument, he pretends that the playwright has dismissed him and attains an acting position with the Admiral's Men. His talent for "swift writing" enables him to crack an encoded note that identifies the culprit. While describing Widge's frenetic activities, Blackwood shows the political and religious instability that prevailed due to Queen Elizabeth's failing health. The monarch is a prime supporter of Shakespeare's dramas, and the company members wonder what their fate will be after her death. Meanwhile, they attempt to rid their plays of any reference to Papists so no one will report them to the already insecure authorities. Widge and his friends love adventure; they venture into treacherous, forbidden streets to seek a mysterious and frightening fortune-teller and they taunt one another to cross the frozen river. Readers will identify with Widge's increasing self-understanding and integrity gained from his experiences. Blackwood's well-integrated plot and intriguing subplots ensure a fast-paced tale of Elizabethan England that fans of the earlier novels will love; the author incorporates historical details from the broad political scene to the minute social scene to give authority and excitement to the story.
Susan Cooley, formerly at Tower Hill School, Wilmington, DE
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Gr. 5-8. This sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer (1998) and Shakespeare's Scribe (2000) is narrated by Widge, an orphan boy who acts with the Lord Chamberlain's Men at the Globe Theatre. Widge, at the precarious age when his changing voice jeopardizes his ability to play women's roles, becomes infatuated with an older woman, Mr. Shakespeare's daughter, Judith, and begins to write plays in hopes of impressing her. Soon he proves his acting ability offstage by taking on a secret mission for his employers. Blackwood goes beyond mere costume drama here, bringing together actual people, events, and details of daily life from the period and infusing them with an Elizabethan outlook. In an appended note, Blackwood separates fact from fiction. Characters and themes from the earlier books reappear in this story, while the increasingly mature Widge grapples anew with his identity and his place in the world. With a more convincing portrayal of its period than most historical novels, this book is a solid addition to a rewarding series. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Excellent y/a introduction to the world of the theatre in the time of Shakespeare. Interesting, easy narrative. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Andrea Twain
In this third adventure for young Widge, apprentice to William Shakespeare's London theatre company, we find the city in a depressing and uncertain time, waiting for the ailing... Read morePublished on December 3, 2010 by audrey pierce