Monday, October 4, 2010

The Shakespeare Stealer Series

Storyline - Book 1: The Shakespeare Stealer -Young, orphan boy whose only known as Widge is told by his new master to steal a play by master playwright Shakespeare. Having no other choice, Widge tries to do so but ends up undercover in the company to steal the play. Eventually he has to make a choice, his master or the only family he has ever known.
Book 3: Shakespeare's Spy- The plague and the queen's dying health is the trouble in the beginning in this book. But when Widge has his fortune told to him, he is very confused and when it is read a second time is worried about if it will come true. Plus, things have been disappearing from the acting company. Mr. Shakespeare's daughter is visiting and Widge begins to lose his heart strings. Soon, news that an old friend is in trouble and Widge starts thinking about writing a play to impress Shakespeare's daughter and help his friend. What is a prentice to do?

Author - Gary Blackwood

Age Group - 12 and up
(This review is mostly about book 3, Shakespeare's Spy, because that is the one I most recently read and book 2 is not covered at all because I didn't read it for some reason)

Positive - Widge is a loyal friend and tries to do the right thing even when he's not sure what it is. The books also teach about how the theatre was back during the rule of Queen Elizabeth and names some classical plays. There is also some other historical factors in the series like a short hand that Widge is particularly good at which the author says is real.

Negative - Fortunetelling, for one, is in book 3 and it ends with Widge thinking everything is decided by fate. He also lies on occasion and helps a man escape from prison so he could get information to help a friend. The book also mentioned about how Catholics were persecuted during Queen Elizabeth's reign and how one of the main characters were hurt by some Catholics in a different acting company but doesn't help the character see in the end that not all Catholic are like that which is why this is in the 'negative' section. The priest we meet in the book is trying to help Catholics (which is good) and hiding from the police but helps Widge lie at least once  There was also very little spying in the book for it to be part of its name.

Finish - The series had a bitter sweet ending that I didn't like. Widge was alone even though he was looking forward to the future but he also believed more in fate and that he couldn't change the predictions that the fortune teller told him. He had gone back to her the last time so he could know the future to avoid future heart aches such as who should he get close to and who not to after being hurt be several characters. The series would have been better without the fortune telling and if Widge had a happier ending. I wish it had been taught that you couldn't know the future and just because you were hurt by something it doesn't mean you should try and avoid people because you might get hurt because would he really trade knowing any of his friends just because they are gone? Also he should learn from his mistakes, like when Widge felt responsible for a friend who got hurt, and try to do differently in the future. Widge and the characters are good and the books can be interesting I just personally wish they ended differently.

Links - Learn more about the series at: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780525473206,00.html#

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