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The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary BlackwoodThe Shakespeare Stealer
by Gary Blackwood

Widge is an orphan with a rare talent for shorthand. His fearsome master has just one demand: steal Shakespeare's play "Hamlet"—or else. Widge has no choice but to follow orders, so he works his way into the heart of the Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare's players perform. As full of twists and turns as a London alleyway, this entertaining novel is rich in period details, colorful characters, villainy, and drama. "A fast-moving historical novel that introduces an important era with casual familiarity." —School Library Journal, starred review

A young orphan boy is ordered by his master to infiltrate Shakespeare's acting troupe in order to steal the script of "Hamlet," but he discovers instead the meaning of friendship and loyalty.


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Book Details

Review Score: ★★★★☆ (20 reviews)
ISBN : 9780141305950
Publisher : Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication Date : 7/28/2000
Pages : 224


Reviews for The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood

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★★★★☆ - Parker Family jcp

It was interesting to read Widge was a good character and the references to Shakespeare were good the drama with Julian also quite interesting.

★★★★☆ - Hannah Hannah

Great story
Loved the ending except for the Julia part.
I wanted her and Widge to hook up and get married

★★★★★ - v.s.armstrong-wilcox

The exciting story of Widge, an orphan boy,
In London working at the Globe theater during the days when William Shakespeare was a playwright .

★★★★★ - Ashleigh McCambridge

When Julian first came into the story I thought he was a girl. When I finally got used to Julian being a boy, they said that she was acting as a boy who acted as a girl.

★★★★★ - elisabeth virnstein

My class of seventh graders learned so much about Elizabethan times from this novel and could easily sympathize with the central character. Good choice.

★★★★☆ - Claire "Claire Guthrie"

Really enjoyed this book. Used in our study of The Middle Ages. A delightful story for young and old alike.

★★★★★ - als

The Shakespeare Stealer catches you right at the beginning.
The title implied a boring read to me but it was quite the opposite.
Widge is a smart, quick orphan, with a talented pen hand and the perfect nack for getting in trouble.
The story has an unexpected twist that sets off the story perfectly.
It is very funny and I was thrilled to learn there where two more books to the series.

★★★★★ - Sharon Rose

This novel set in Elizabethan England captures the sights and sounds of that time period accurately. I use it as a novel study for Grade Eight students, because it augments the study of The Renaissance so well.
The characters are well developed and interesting. The author's use of humour to sustain the reader's interest helps to keep reluctant readers engaged, Customs of daily life give lots of opportunities for discussion.
This novel, first of three, motivates readers to continue reading the series - a bonus for parents and teachers who are looking for books for boys and girls who don't like to read.

★☆☆☆☆ - greeneyes

I ordered this book for my daughter to read for school. She was having trouble answering the questions for Chapter 4 so I read it to help her and found that pages 27 through 58 were missing. It didn't look as if the pages had been torn out, but rather that they had never been there to begin with. Obviously, we had to get another copy of the book. I'm not going to return this one as I'd have to pay for shipping and would only get a partial credit. Thought I'd warn others so they can check the book as soon as they get it and can get a full refund.

★★★☆☆ - Albert Liao

Imagine a lion hunting you down, and you are in a crossroad where you do not know which way to go. Intriguing as the title suggests, The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood portrays an orphan, Widge, who travels to London with a decision to either follow his master, the "lion", to steal Shakespeare's Hamlet, or to escape and join the players in The Globe, Shakespeare's theater. The interesting side of this novel is when the climactic point of the story turns the plot upside down, but in a good way. When he decided to run away, Widge has to fight the internal conflict of escaping his master's supervision. Although he tries to escape, part of him continues to be in search for the playbook. In my opinion, the plot was somewhat predictable, but I believe it is fascinating to see how authors twist their stories, especially this one.

Although the plot of the story is somewhat weak, I would say the story itself is compelling and did hook me into the mood from the first page. However, as the story progressed, it seemed to be dragging, as if Blackwood was trying to make the book longer. On the other hand, Blackwood's use of words made the story realistic, which more or less made the story fascinating at parts. Widge's adventure in London recreates a scene of a poor kid actually trying to survive.

If I were to rate this story on a scale of one to ten, I would give it a six, not because of the dullness in some parts of the story but because of the dragging moments. Mentioned above, the story may have been fast written but some parts, for example, Widge hiding and trying not to be caught, took almost ten pages. Although it is crucial to create a good scene, it is redundant to create a really long-written one. All in all, I would recommend this book for people who like to read casual books that are adventurous at the same time.

★★★★☆ - JessicaErrico

"The stranger stood just inside the doorway, motionless and silent"(9) of Widge's so called "home". He would of course be here to buy Widge. Widge is an orphan who is passed around by different owners, fulfilling their tasks, and working for them. His new masters would be Simon Bass and Falconer; they give Widge one task and only one task that is of course, to steal Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. While Widge was in action trying to secretly write the play down behind the curtains, he got caught. He was forced to make up a lie, or else they would catch him. So Widge said he had come to run away from his master. The actors were very nice and one even let Widge stay with him and his family. Widge even starts to practice becoming and actor, like he has always wanted. In till one day his master returns for him and demands for the script. Widge doesn't have it and his master threatens him and demands the script immediately. Widge becomes very close with the theatre players and is faced with a big decision- should he steal the play and obey his master or stick with his new friends?

Gary Blackwood, the author of the Shakespeare Stealer has a loud voice in this book. All characters have certain characteristics, which are shown in Blackwood's dialogue. For example when Falconer saves Widge:
"Thank you" Widge said
"For what?" Falconer replied
"For saving me life"
"I saved your master's investment, that's all."(45)
This shows truly that Falconer just wants to get down to business, and he doesn't care about anything else. Blackwood's writing truly made me see the traits of all the characters in the book.

We all wanted Widge to stick with his friends yet there were moments in the book where Widge had almost betrayed them. This is one of the reasons why I think I was so attached to this book. Every step of the way I just felt like yelling to Widge not to steal the play.

The Shakespeare Stealer had a great story going on overall, yet at times the plot of the story felt like a roller coaster ride. There was lots of action, like the drama between the theatre player's and the times when Falconer had spotted Widge. Then at other moments I felt as though I could have skipped 30 pages of the book and still would have known the whole story. The book could have been written in 50 pages instead of 216. When I first opened this book I wanted to throw it away, it was so boring! As the story moves on it gets a lot more interesting. Though you would probably think by the name of the book the problem would be that this young boy has to go steal a play, but there is much more to the story. Widge encounter's far more problems and in the end he discovers who he really is inside, instead of just a slave.

★★☆☆☆ - JaimeCol

Widge, an orphan never had a family. He was raised by a man named Dr. Bright and finally one day a man named Falconer "adopted" him. Falconer then asks Widge to steal Shakespears play Hamlet. In my opinion the ending was the best part. Please don't abandon the book because the begining is very slow moving. While i was reading this book i hoped for Widge to do the right thing and not obey Falconer his "master". I really felt bad for him because he never had a family before and during the process of trying to steal the play he pretty much got one, and stealing the play would loose that. Once he got bac to Falconer I knew his life would be much worse. I felt sympathy for this young boy. I actually got somewhat mad whenever Widge thought about stealing the script of the play. I somewhat became attched to him. I know he is just a fictional character, but just the thought of me being in that situation upset me. I could not think about putting myself in his shoes. One decision can change your life and that's what this book brought to readers. Thinking things over more carefully could bring something good into your life. He finally gets the chance to have a normal life and one command could change that if Widge decides to listen. The plot is well thought out and carried out with the twists and turns during the story. All the characters had needy personalities. All of them wanted something, but they couldn't obtain it until the end.

★★★★☆ - Devika

A young, orphaned boy, named Widge, was given a tough and dishonest task, by his master. He had to copy down the lines of "Hamlet". He does, but then a pickpocket steals the copy from Widge. Then, Widge joins the theatre. He's treated so well by the people in the theatre .He then becomes confused, whether he should betray them or follow his master. This book explains themes like belonging, and honesty. I think the book explains belonging as Widge has struggled his entire life trying to fitting in. His mother died when he was born. Now, he is finally in a place where people like and appreciate him. For example, Widge has never been seen as a friend or a member of a family. He was always considered as a piece of property. The book also explains honesty as Widge remains loyal to his friends and Shakespeare. Like, at the end of the book Widge did not steal the play. He remained honest to his new friends.
The book The Shakespeare Stealer was a good one. It had a great flow. The events went hand in hand, making the book easy to understand. No matter what anyone accomplishes something goes wrong, in my opinion. Gary Blackwood's book was too predictable. For example, on page 65, it said, "My fingers closed on the pencil, but the table book was unquestionably, inexplicably gone." To me, this was just expected. This book is 216 pages long. It was impossible what on the 65th page Widge had already completed the given task, without any difficulty. In all books the characters always run into some difficulty, before getting what they want. So, with 151 pages remaining, it was obvious that the table book containing the lines of the play would be stolen. Also, it is very important that a book has a good ending. If it doesn't it is just a waste to read the book. This book had a predictable ending. Like on page 216 it said, "I had heard these words before and never fully understood their import- words such as honesty and trust, loyalty and friendship. And family. And home." This meant that Widge did not steal the play; he remained loyal to his friends. No offence, but I feel just to teach us a lesson, the author messed up the ending. Lastly, this book was too easy for the eighth grade. I realize and consider the fact that it is on our required list, but it is way too easy. For example, when this book was assigned to us I bought it home to read and complete our homework. My brother, who is currently in the 4th grade, was able to read and understand this book with clarity. In my opinion this should be a 5th or 6th grade book. I realize I found a lot of problems with the book, but the problems did not conflict with the fact that the messages in the book were conveyed well. I would recommend this book to others.
Every book is written by an author. Every author has a background. The author of this book is Gary Blackwood. Gary Blackwood was born on October 23rd, 1945 in Meadville, Pennsylvania He is an American author that writes books for young adults. He graduated with a B.A. in English from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Blackwood's first book was The Lion and the Unicorn, self-published in 1983. In 1987 he published "Wild Timothy." In 1998 his novel The Shakespeare Stealer was published, it takes place in the time of Elizabethan London. Blackwood is a popular speaker at schools and children's literature festivals across the US and Canada.
With all that said, read the book to find out if Widge will cheat Mr. Shakespeare and his friend

★★★★☆ - JessicaChen

The Shakespeare Stealer
By Gary Blackwood
555 Broadway NY
Published by Scholastic Inc, 1998
216 pages

The Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary Blackwood is novel about an orphan named Widge who joins a theater. Its mostly about his life as an actor, but Widge also has a secret mission he was ordered to complete. It has the overused 'family' theme, but is still enjoyable to read even though we all know that the main character will chose his friends in the end.

The story takes place in late 1500's, London. Which means they all talk weird. Just like how Shakespeare says things. ( If the title didn't give that away, then I don't know what would ) You also have to remember that England was still ruled by monarchy and all that higher class stuff, because then the book would be slightly confusing.

Widge, being a lowly orphan, has no power over many things. He even says, "What feeble objection of mine could carry the weight of ten pounds of currency?"(pg 14) This leads to him being forced to steal a play from Shakespeare for his master by using a code to record the lines of the play. And he loses it, because other wise there would be no plot. Which leads to him joining the theatre undercover so he can take it. Widge does get close to taking it once, "All I had to do was tuck it under my arm and turn and walk out of the theatre."(pg 107) but of course he doesn't. "My guilt at the thought of betraying him and the rest of the company came back, stronger than ever."(pg 143) which leads to the ending that we all were expecting,
"--words such as honesty and trust, loyalty, and friendship. And family. And home."(pg 216)

In the end, The Shakespeare Stealer uses a clich plot and we already almost know what will happen because of that. And yet, it still has enough twists to make it interesting. Though I still think that the overall plotline could be changed so we don't know what will happen. Like, if Widge does steal the play, then the readers would actually be surprised. But then the plot would be very confusing and hard to follow. Gary Blackwood would also have to come up with a entirely new plot to make it easier to read.

Weirdly enough, The Shakespeare Stealer was inspired by when Gary Blackwood found out that somebody had invented a shorthand in the 16th century. Since he loved to write, that idea turned into a story. He also was reminded of Shakespeare, so that contributed as well.

Finally, I would like to say that this is a book worth reading. Many plot twists occur throughout the story, keeping it exciting and fun, while at the same time, not scaring little children with reality.

★☆☆☆☆ - Anonymous

When I first picked this book up I thought it'd be great. But I was so, so wrong. Blackwood had a great idea and could have done so much more with it. The plot is great but was just missing that special something. On the whole, the book is very shallow. The actors at the Globe don't have much of a personality difference. They all seem the same. He repeats over and over again the same things about Widge. The book is boring and leaves you feeling like there was something very important missing when you are done reading it.

★★★★★ - Anonymous

This book is definitly for someone who is into Elizabethan times and what it was like back then. It was an exciting book that didn't really have any dull moments in my opinion. It wasn't too long, and the subjects good be grasped by anyone. Adults would probably also enjoy reading this book.

★★★★★ - Anonymous

I am starting to read it. Can someone tell , e if it is a goog book 4 a 4th grader? Cause I am

★★★★☆ - Anonymous

Okay, im not going to give a 30 paragraph reviw on this book but, i do think it is a great book but do agree it starts slow and is missing some parts but it is a great book and highly suggest it.

★★★★★ - Anonymous

Amazing read it in school. Would recomend this to my peers.

★★★★★ - Anonymous

I love this book so much i will rewlad it 3 more times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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