- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 0850 (What's this?)
- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (April 21, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142403113
- ISBN-13: 978-0142403112
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shakespeare's Spy (Shakespeare Stealer, Book 3) Paperback – April 21, 2005
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From School Library Journal
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Our family has read the three Widge books. They've been terrific on many levels: we've learned about England of the time, London and Shakespeare's troupe in particular; we've read almost a thousand pages about an interesting character in intriguing situations; we've watched the character grow and mature, experience happy times, bad times, sad events and growth. The writing is easy on the ear and eye, the dialogue natural, and the fiction believable.
Wonderful series. Wish there were more.
As always, Blackwood does an excellent job of working in details about life in Shakespeare's London and about life in the world of Elizabethan theater. And as he did in Shakespeare's Scribe, Blackwood here goes into even more detail about what goes into the writing of a play as Widge tries his hand at writing a play of his own. Using this, Blackwood also cleverly shows the reader at the same time how it is possible that not all the plays we think of as being Shakespeare's were necessarily his work. One of the things I like about Blackwood's books is that you learn things about the actual historical period in the process of an enjoyable read. The actual history in this case adds to the drama as Widge and his fellow players must deal with the impending death of Queen Elizabeth, under whose reign the theater prospered. They must wait anxiously to see whether her successor, James, will be a patron of the theater or, if the Puritans have their way, will have it banned as a sinful indulgence, putting an end to all theatrical performances and to their way of life.
Another thing I particularly liked about Shakespeare's Spy is Blackwood's use of a fortune teller who early on foretells what fate has in store for Widge, his friend Sam and his rival Sal Pavy. And just as Shakespeare often did, Blackwood cleverly shows that just because you've been told your fortune does not mean that you have correctly interpreted it, let alone that you will understand until it finally happens.
All in all, this third book is yet another highly enjoyable and educational read. My only regret is that Widge's tale is seemingly done and there won't be any other books to follow. Highly recommended for readers of all ages.