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The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet Hardcover – January 7, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hoping to fly under the radar in middle school, Hamlet’s dream of a quiet eighth-grade year is dashed. Her genius seven-year-old sister, Desdemona, is also enrolled in eighth grade so she can fill her homeschooled curriculum deficiencies in the arts before moving on to college, and her flamboyant Shakespearean scholar parents—in full Elizabethan garb—offer their expertise in Hamlet’s class. Hamlet vacillates between being protective of Dezzie and distancing herself. But when two popular girls befriend Dezzie, Hamlet wonders at their motives and causes a rift with her sister when she voices the suspicion that they are taking advantage of Dezzie’s smarts to help them pass their classes. Hamlet further stands out during a dazzling reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream,which reveals her natural talent for theater. Some sisterly bonding, the sweet flutterings of a first romance, and a creatively contrived comeuppance for the mean girls make this a cheerful read for younger middle-schoolers. Grades 4-7. --Heather Booth

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"An excellent choice for middle school readers." -School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; 1 edition (January 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803732988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803732988
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #777,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Eighth-grader Hamlet Kennedy has a complicated relationship with Shakespeare. She just wants to be a normal middle-schooler, but it's a little hard given her first name (her mother and father thought about naming her Ophelia but decided it would be too much of a downer). As if that weren't bad enough, Hamlet is mortified any time her Renaissance Faire-dressing parents (both Shakespeare scholars) show up at school. And now they're likely to be stopping by more often since Hamlet's younger sister, Desdemona, is going to be taking some classes at Howard Hoffer Middle School. Oh, did I mention that Dezzie is only seven years old? This math and science prodigy is ready to start college, except for the little details of never having taken art or music appreciation courses. That's where Hamlet's middle school --- and Hamlet herself, who has enlisted as Dezzie's tour guide --- comes in.

What's more, Hamlet's English and history classes are embarking on an interdisciplinary "Salute to Shakespeare," complete with assignments to create a scale model of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (Hamlet's dad already has several in the basement) and to perform scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Hamlet never thought she had anything in common with her Shakespeare-obsessed parents or with her freakily talented little sister. But when Hamlet is singled out for the natural skill and fluency with which she reads the Bard's immortal words, she starts to realize that she --- and not just her unusual family --- might be worthy of attention.

To top off Hamlet's confusion and embarrassment, someone has been leaving cute little origami pigs (Get it? Ham?) in her locker. Is it a secret admirer or someone making fun of her? And how about prodigy Dezzie's newfound "friendship" with popular girls Saber and Mauri?
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Format: Hardcover
Eighth grade for Hamlet Kennedy isn't looking too great so far. Her genius seven year-old sister is in eighth grade WITH her, her parents are obsessed with Shakespeare, and a mystery person is leaving origami pigs in her locker!! This is a hilarious story that you just can't put down! Huzzah for Hamlet (the "huzzah" relates to the book). This is a MUST READ!!!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is such a great book about a normal 13 year old girl named Hamlet with an unusual family who is trying to fit in at school. But 8th grade becomes a challenge when her 7 year old genius sister starts taking some classes at her school.

Dezzie (Hamlet's sister) doesn't have much experience with kids her age (or in this case older kids) so she has no idea how to act because her parents have always homeschooled her (and they are obsessed with Shakespeare so they aren't the most normal people ever).

But when she goes to Ho-Ho (the middle school) she surprises everyone by becoming friends with the most popular girls in school. But when Hamlet discovers that they are using Dezzie for her brains so they can pass English, Hamlet tries to protect Dezzie.

With Hamlet' s best friend Ty acting weird, her failing grade in algebra, her troubles with her Shakespeare-obsessed parents, her newly found greatness in acting, and many other problems, Hamlet knows she can't protect Dezzie forever. Will Dezzie accept that Mauri and Saber don't really want to be her friends and end it, and will Hamlet be able to deal with all her problems? Read this really great book to see!

I would recommend this book to girls ages 10-14 just because there are a lot of hard words that younger kids probably won't understand. I'm 13 and I thought it was really good :)
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Format: Hardcover
Hamlet Kennedy has more problems that just her unusual name. Her parents are the kind of enthusiastic Shakespeare scholars who wear Elizabethan gear around town, cook authentic Shakespearean meals (pottage, anyone?), and disdain contractions as "commoner's speech." Meanwhile, her seven-year-old sister is so smart that she's ready to start college, except for some pesky art credits, so Desdemona is spending her mornings at school with eighth grader Hamlet. Hamlet is also flunking pre-algebra, trying desperately to avoid her class project on A Midsummer Night's Dream, and confused by the origami pigs that keep appearing in her locker.

So far, eighth grade has not been a stellar year.

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet is a very funny book, yet moving at the same time. I caught myself laughing frequently at this book during silent reading time. The writing in this book is very witty, and Hamlet's absurd parents are deservedly the butt of many jokes. I also found myself really mad at Hamlet's parents during parts of this book for their selfish behavior.

I read this book because I wanted to put it on my summer reading list, and I'm glad that I did. Although it's written for a younger audience than most of the books that I read, the novel really captures just how hard it can be to be fourteen years old. And though the overall book is funny, there are also very moving sections as Hamlet struggles to deal with her classmates, her teachers, and her family. This is one of those middle grade novels that really captures just how difficult those early teen years are. Middle school readers should definitely check out this book.
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