The Shakespeare Stealer

The Shakespeare Stealer

by Gary Blackwood

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A delightful adveture full of humor and heart set in Elizabethan England!

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

"Readers will find much to like in Widge, and plenty to enjoy in this gleeful romp through olde England" --Kirkus Reviews 

"Excels in the lively depictions of Elizabethan stagecraft and street life." --Publishers Weekly

An ALA Notable Book

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101200032
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 07/01/2000
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 561,444
Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
File size: 672 KB
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Gary L. Blackwood sold his first story when he was nineteen, and has been writing and publishing stories, articles, plays, novels, and nonfiction books regularly ever since. His stage plays have won awards and been produced in university and regional theatre. Nonfiction subjects he's covered include biography, history, and paranormal phenomena. His juvenile novels, which include WILD TIMOTHY, THE DYING SUN, and THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER, are set in a wide range of times and places, from Elizabethan England to a parallel universe. Several have received special recognition and been translated into other languages. He and his wife and kids live outside Carthage, MO.

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Shakespeare Stealer 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
JessicaErrico More than 1 year ago
"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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dont get this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book. my favorite two words in the book were THE END *-*
Devika More than 1 year ago
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 More than 1 year ago
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 cliché 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.
JaimeCol More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Shakespeare Stealer is a historical fiction adventure, featuring Widge, a poor orphan boy, recently apprenticed to first one, and then another unsavory master. As a "prentice," Widge is unfamiliar with the concepts of freedom, choice, honesty, and friendship. For Widge, life is merely a series of events over which he has no control; he survives them, or he does not.When Widge's new master gives him the task of stealing William Shakespeare's latest play, The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, he thinks of it as nothing more than another of life's turns. He will steal the play or be severely beaten. Only after Widge ingratiates himself with the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's acting company, does he realizes that, while life may be a grand stage upon which we are all actors, we have the ability to play our part as we choose.The historical details are threaded into the story creating a rich tapestry which includes period dialogue, anecdotes about Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and an insider's view of theater life in Elizabethan London. The message of honesty, loyalty and friendship may be a bit heavy-handed, but the story line is full of intrigue and adventure; the action is fast-paced and exciting. My library has this book in the young adult (YA) section, but it would make a fine choice for grade 6 and up.An ALA Notable Children's Book Award winner
RefPenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Widge is apprenticed to a doctor who teaches him a form of shorthand. This skill means he is in demand to copy Shakespeare's plays when they are performed and so he changes masters. But things go awry and somehow he ends up as part of The King's Players and is torn between fear of his master and his enjoyment of his new life. This is a fast moving book rich in historical detail and interesting characters. Suitable for ages 10 and up.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I saw that this book was going to be my daughter's 6th grade summer reading book, I was pleased as punch. As an English major dork, I adore Shakespeare. I have been known to read the plays for pleasure. And I thought that exposing kids to Shakespeare in a roundabout way was sheer genius. All this before I even read the book. So it was delightful to discover that the book was fun and entertaining too.The premise of the book is that Widge is a lowly apprentice who has been taught a version of shorthand by one of his masters. He has never known family or caring, just having been a means to an end in the indentured servitude that has comprised his entire young life so far. His latest master, a genial seeming man, has ordered Widge to steal Shakespeare's Hamlet by attending the play and transcribing it as it occurs. And to make certain that Widge does as he's bidden, he sends the rather scary Falconer with Widge as a sort of enforcer. But Widge doesn't manage to write down the play because he is too engrossed in the pageantry and wonder of the world of imagination. In failing to steal Hamlet, Widge somehow ends up as an apprentice in the Globe theater, falling further and further under the spell of acting, becoming a valued part of the theater family, and escaping the menacing Falconer. But he can't escape his task forever.Blackwood has created a credible cast of characters and set them in a nicely rendered London in the time of Shakespeare. He has provided an intriguing and easy entry into a world that helps to define the literary world today and has done it without condescending to kids or under-estimating their intelligence. The tension that Widge feels about whether or not Falconer will come to claim him and punish him for his master is conveyed nicely to the middle grade reader. Blackwood's real triumph here though, is in weaving the underlying threads of right versus wrong (embodied here by the idea of intellectual property) and the importance of family (natural or found) in with such a meticulously drawn historical world. He imparts little asides about the times in almost every scene of the book but these instructive bits are so well integrated into the story that they never seem forced or out of place. Really, this is the sort of book I would have loved as a middle grade reader. When I asked R. what she thought about the book, she gave me a long plot summary and then said, "I liked that he [the author] made them talk like they would and that there were secrets that some people didn't tell." She says she recommends it and so do I.
mrsdwilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Widge, an orphan, has had a rough life. When he is taken from the orphanage to be an apprentice, he thinks his luck might be about to change. Dr. Bright teaches Widge a form of shorthand and then sells him to a new master. Widge is told that he must go to London and copy down William Shakespeare's new play, Hamlet. At first, Widge intends to obey, but as he gets to know the players and discovers a love a theater, he is torn between his master and his new friends.Teens who know a bit about Shakespeare will enjoy the references to his works. A quick, easy read.
snapplechick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Widge is an orphan "taken in" by a doctor and his family.The doctor teaches him a shorthand that enables him to write words a s quickly as they are spoken. Widge isn't happy there and dreams that someone will take him away, but when a mystereious cloaked figure comes and offers 10 shillings for him Widge whisked into a dangerous theft. His new master wants him to copy Shakespeares play Hamlet so that his theater group can perform it. Widge has to decide whether to do what's right or to take the easy road. This book was exciting and suspenseful. It's historical fiction, but you can hardly tell because it seems so real. The dialogue and characters are beautifully used. There is also a sequel-The Shakespeare Scribe.
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Despite it's klugy beginning, this one's a pretty good book. The premise is that there's this orphan lad, Widge, who's apprenticed to this odd doctor who had developed a form of shorthand. Widge is the guinea pig in this project and indeed is the only one who knows how to write in this unique script. Another man, one Simon Bass, reads about the good doctor's method and arranges to buy out Widge's apprenticeship. You see, Mr. Bass owns a company of players and he's looking for some good material that might increase their box office take. He's figured that rather than wait for William Shakespeare to publish his latest hit, Hamlet, he could just send Widge over to catch a performance at the Globe Theater and have him copy down the play. That way Bass' players can beat the rush and perform the latest hit while it's still hot. Of course, it doesn't work out so easily. Widge ends up getting more involved in the world of Elizabethan era theater and Shakespeare's company. It's a story worth checking out. As the tale progresses, the hokey shorthand premise is forgotten and a story of ambition and relationships plays out.--J.
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First off I have to say this was an extrordinary book to read. The Shakespear Stealer tells how an orphan boy gets many diferent masters and how he pleases or tries to please them. The orphan boys name is Widge who is to steal a the shakespear play called Hamlet. He ends up being a prentice actor, or as they call them players. Someone who worked for one of his masters gets unmasked near the end of the book and shocks nearly all. This s my summary and thank you for reading it. I hope it was good. :)- the summary writer. I will be writing more summarys on more books. If you want to see morf my summary on some books you want to read than look to see if there is a post called Summary Writers Summary.
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