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
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 Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book and School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (not this year, however), this gripping middle-grade historical-fiction novel is very enjoyable. Its main theme, the true meaning of friendship and family, is very powerful.
In addition, this book would be excellent to use as a supplement when discussing the Elizabethan Era in a classroom setting.
My favorite character is Widge. He isn’t really anything special, or at least not in his mind. But, despite circumstances, he manages to survive through everything on his own wits and courage, and decides, in the end, to do the right thing. In the beginning of the book, having never had a family, Widge doesn’t really understand the real value of love. But at the end, through his new friends and the rest of the theater troupe that think of him as a brother and son, he learns how important it really is.