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The Shakespeare Stealer (The Shakespeare Stealer #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  5,112 Ratings  ·  440 Reviews
High jinks and high adventure fill every page of this exciting, panoramic novel set in Shakespeare's time. Widge, a young orphan indentured to a cold, unscrupulous master, has a special talent--the ability to write a secret shorthand. The master is determined to acquire a script of "Hamlet" at any cost, so it becomes Widge's duty to transcribe it--or else!
Mass Market Paperback, 216 pages
Published September 1999 by Scholastic (first published May 1st 1998)
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I listened to the Audible edition of 'The Shakespeare Stealer' with my oldest daughter on a recent trip. It was the last of the books that she needed to read to complete her school's summer reading list for the year. It was also one that I hadn't read before, so it was new to both of us.

While I usually enjoy reading the classic children's stories, this one just didn't hold much appeal for me. Honestly, it was kind of a tedious listening experience for both of us. We both kept losing interest. Th
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really hated this book in the being but in the end i came to like it. The book involves a lot of sword fighting, weird, HUH? The book really comes to show that everybody is not who you thought they were. Sometimes people hide their identity for goo reasons and sometimes for bad reasons. This book really comes to show that loyalty is important and you need to be careful who you trust, because you never know who is hiding their identity!! I would definitely recommend this book, It is a quick and ...more
Nov 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I personally did not like this book. I thought it was really slow and boring and didn't get interesting till the end. To really understand the book you have to know the language. There is a lot of older language that some people might not understand. The book is kind of confusing at some points and really strange at other points. I would recommended this book to anyone that likes Shakespeare or likes kind of mysterious books. This is also a quick and easy book so if you needed an extra historica ...more
Kate Pye
May 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book was pretty boring and didn't have any action the influenced the book. The author had the right idea but just couldn't pull it off. Over all it was just super boring and pointless
Robert Moushon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was different than my usual literature.

Yes, it is historical fiction. Yes, it has a bit of mystery in it. Yes, both are genres that I avidly read. But these two genres in this particular book was different.

And I think it was because of the theater aspect.

I don't usually read about the theater. And I didn't know much about Shakespeare, the theater, or the process of being a prentice or an actor back in the 16th century before I read this book. I did know that women weren't allowed to pe
The other John
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 ...more
Kristen McDermott
This young adult novel follows the adventures of an Elizabethan orphan named Widge, who is sold into service to an unscrupulous theater director. Widge knows the new art of shorthand, and he is ordered to attend a performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Globe Theatre, copy down the text of the play, and return it to his master, who will mount an unauthorized production. But Widge is discovered by the players, who take him in as an apprentice.
Blackwood has done his theater-history homework, an
Stella  ☢FAYZ☢ Chen
Feb 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
Had to read this in grade 6. Two words: Le creys.
Simon Devisser
May 09, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was all right was not intrigued
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


After an orphan boy named Widge is commanded by his master to write down Shakespeare's Hamlet in a secret handwriting called charactery that only he knows, it's clear that obedience is obligatory. But when he is adopted into Shakespeare's theater troupe and befriends the players, he starts to have second thoughts. He knows that what he has been asked to do is wrong, and in the end, he must decide. Will Widge carry out orders, or remain loyal to the other players?

Attaining the status of Smithson
Sydney Markson
I felt that the Shakespeare Stealer was not a good book because I usually did not understand what was happening in the scenes. This is a book about a boy who is taken to a new master who gives him the task of stealing the play Hamlet from Shakespeare himself, but the boy gets caught doing so and has to pretend to have been an interested actor wanting to become an actor(So he would not get hit). Over the coarse of the book he finds himself falling in love with acting and wants to be apart of the ...more
At first, I thought I had already predicted how this book would go: Widge infiltrates the company, actually learns to love it, is exposed, and has to convince everybody that he's changed. But this book defied that expectation by slightly adjusting that trope, along with adding some other details that I didn't expect, which overall made the book more credible as historical fiction.

I also enjoyed reading and being immersed into Shakespeare-era time and speech.
Oct 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun romp into juvenile historical fiction. I liked the way the author managed to recreate the sights and sounds of Shakespeare's world. This would be a good book to help introduce young readers to The Bard, as evidenced by the fact that it is a popular choice for a book report for the gifted and talented sixth grade class at my school.
Carolyn Shields
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hudson Galdamez
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-ya
This is perhaps my favorite children's book ever. I remember reading it in about the 7th grade and being blown away.
The novel has just so many superb sequences, I remember being surprised by many of the twists. With the wonderful character development, I learned to love each character.
I strongly recommend this book, it's superb.
I thought this book was awful. I had to read it for our reading groups in L.A. The most eventful thing in the book in my opinion is when Widge found out the Julian was actually a girl. The beginning of the book was boring, but by the middle it got better, but the ending went right back down hill again. I would not suggest reading this book.
I almost didn't remember reading this book when I found it in my bookshelf but now that I think of it, it was one of the first books that I ever read in English. But it's about Shakespeare, so it's not bad.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the twists and turns in this book. Each chapter ended with a cliff-hanger. It was a good book to read aloud as a bed time story for my daughter.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s
Alexander Hutchison
I really didn't enjoy this book. The way that the events happened just really didn't work with me.
Jennifer Siddiqui
This book is written for middle grade children,but can be confusing due to its old style language. I found the book interesting and learned some things I did not know about Shakespeare.
Gavneet Bhandal
pretty interesting
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First read: April 2009
Second read: May 18, 2011
A decent, but underwhelming story, given how much school shelf space it is given. The story is slooow to start, and even when events start occurring that seem like they ought to be interesting, the detached way they are told keeps any real tension from building. I never felt like the complexity of the story matched the difficulty of the language. Obviously, any bit of Shakespearean English, no matter how watered down, is not going to be a walk in the park for middle grade readers, but I felt tha ...more
Heather O'Neill
Widge is a young man that was purchased by Simon Bass and taken to London where he is to go to William Shakespeare's new play Hamlet and copy the play with his shorthand and give it to Simon. Simon will then use the copy of the play so that his acting company can also perform this play.

We read this book for school and it coincided with learning about William Shakespeare and that time period. I thought that it was a good novel for kids that gave an overview of what it was like during that time pe
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing story! this whole series is worth reading. During the time of Shakespeare, rival theaters would send secret scribes to watch his plays and write them down verbatim so that they could copy them and produce Shakespeare's plays (or a rip off of them) in their own theaters. Naturally, this was illegal. The main character in this book is an orphan who gets sucked into this world. He is sent in to steal the play, because he can write. However, what he does not count on is that he becomes so me ...more
Laura Verret
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: goodwill-finds
A historical novel set at the Golden Theatre during Shakespeare’s reign there!

The Story.

I’ve never had a proper name – never known me mum or dad, neither. The only name I’ve had in this life was called me at the orphanage – Widge. It’s the name I’ve been known by for all me fourteen years, and it tells a truthsome tale – that there are none who know and love me.

Dr. Bright took me in when I was a puny lad of seven. He seemed favorably disposed towards me and even taught me to read and write a spe
Laurel Decher
This is an exciting and twisty story about a scrappy orphan boy called "Widge" who gets the job of stealing Mr. Shakespeare's newest play.

There are so many surprising twists about characters that it's hard to write about the book without giving things away! Lots of action in this tale of fencing, boats shooting the bridge, and crossing country by night. Costume props like sheep's bladders full of blood take care of the special effects and a secret kind of writing makes the theft of a play possi
Nancy Boyd
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellently done! Though obviously a book for middle schoolers, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author does a wonderful job of creating good heroes & villains, yet makes Shakespeare just elusive enough for him to maintain his mysterious, historical shroud. The lessons of honesty & friendship are well done without sounding "preachy," & the clever way the author gives a peek at the dialogue, day-to-day living, & historical vocabulary is educational without feeling too educational. A g ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Shakespeare Stealer 1 2 Jan 22, 2013 08:10PM  
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He grew up in rural Cochranton, Western Pennsylvania. He attended school in a one room schoolhouse. He graduated with a B.A. in English from Grove City College in Pennsylvania. While a college student, Blackwood published his first short story, Cliffs of Gold, in Twelve/ Fifteen magazine. Blackwood's first book was The Lion and the Unicorn, which he published when he was nineteen. Blackwood sets h ...more
More about Gary L. Blackwood...

Other Books in the Series

The Shakespeare Stealer (3 books)
  • Shakespeare's Scribe (Shakespeare Stealer, #2)
  • Shakespeare's Spy (Shakespeare Stealer, #3)
“This business of friendship was a curious thing, almost as difficult to learn as the busuness of acting. Sometimes you were expected to tell the truth, to express your thoughts and your feelings, and then other times what was wanted was a lie, a bit of disguise.” 16 likes
“Besides, there are other concerns. Suppose this—What did you call him?” “Falconer.” “Suppose this Falconer sells the play to a printer, who publishes it and has it registered. Then the Chamberlain’s Men lose all legal right to perform it ourselves.” “Oh. I didn’t ken.” “We generally delay publication as long as possible. Some companies care little for registrations or rights, and to print the play is the same as saying ‘Here it is, and welcome to it.’ Yet if we don’t publish it ourselves, someone will sell a pirated version. It’s a tricky and an unfair business.” “Aye, I see that now.” I felt more ashamed than ever of the part I’d played in the whole affair. I wanted to believe that we still might retrieve the play book, but knowing Falconer, I did not hold out much hope. Even if we did catch up with him, he was not likely to just apologize and hand it over. By the time we reached St. Paul’s and turned on to Aldersgate Street, I was sweating and trembling as if in the grip of the ague. But with the gate in sight, I managed to push myself yet a little farther. A ragged, legless beggar sat by the gate. Mr. Armin crouched and dropped a” 0 likes
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