When Samuel discovers the Globe Theatre, he longs to work for the greatest writer in England. Impressed by the boy's pluck, Master Shakespeare agrees to employ him. One by one, Samuel plays Cobweb, then the grandson of Coriolanus, then a young Roman boy in Julius Caesar. But Master Shakespeare says he is still not ready to play the part he wants most: Juliet. Then one day, Sam gets a lucky break. But has he got what it takes to be one of the finest players in all of England? This vivid historical tale re-creates...
When Samuel discovers the Globe Theatre, he longs to work for the greatest writer in England. Impressed by the boy's pluck, Master Shakespeare agrees to employ him. One by one, Samuel plays Cobweb, then the grandson of Coriolanus, then a young Roman boy in Julius Caesar. But Master Shakespeare says he is still not ready to play the part he wants most: Juliet. Then one day, Sam gets a lucky break. But has he got what it takes to be one of the finest players in all of England? This vivid historical tale re-creates Shakespeare in his setting and explores the fascinating convention of boys playing girls’ parts in 16th-century England.
Young Sam, newly arrived in London, slips inside the just-completed Globe Theatre and is dazzled by its d cor ("It was the most magical place he had ever seen"). Tattersfield's alluringly foreshortened framed image accentuates the ceiling, which captivates the boy. When a man asks Sam what he is doing there, the boy announces that he wants to work for Master Shakespeare, but the man kindly tells him to go home, since "This stage is only for actors." Yet Sam finds a way to fill in for a missing performer. Impressed, the dismissive man (whom readers will recognize as Shakespeare) gives Sam a job playing Cobweb in A Midsummer's Night's Dream, an auspicious start to his career (which allows Francis to work in references to plays such as Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet). Though the electric palette of Tattersfield's ink and gouache artwork can be jarring alongside the story's setting, the illustrations take on a pleasing folk art quality, and nicely spotlight the architect and costumes of Elizabethan London. At times the narrative seems manipulated to work in the facts (such as when the playwright tells Sam about his son's death, to make him appropriately sad for the role of Juliet) but other tidbits of theatrical history will be welcomed, including the practice of boys playing women characters and the actors' interactions with the Globe's rowdy "playgoers." Overall, youngsters will likely find this an enjoyable lesson. Ages 5-9. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Uninspired storytelling, stiff language, and awkward transitions mar this story about young actors on the Elizabethan stage. Sam and his mother have just moved to London, and the lad needs a job. With stars in his eyes, he visits the Globe Theatre and finds work as an actor. Sam's roles are all relatively small, until one lucky day when the voice of the actor playing Juliet begins to break. Sam quickly learns the part and brings down the house. Francis states that all of the female characters in this era were portrayed by boys, but neither the book's illustrations nor its text effectively makes this point. This problem stems, in part, from the fact that the artwork is often out of sync with the action in the text. Where it reads, "Sam stared in the mirror. He smiled at his reflection, picked up the hem of his dress and went out on to the stage," the accompanying artwork is a sterile, uninteresting depiction of the theater's exterior. It's a wasted opportunity to convey Sam's transformation as an actor. The book has six largely irrelevant cityscapes, many of which are spreads, but few of which make a contribution to the story.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A gossamer thin tale spun around not much more than the fact that boys played women's parts on the Elizabethan stage. Having just moved onto London Bridge, young Sam ventures out in search of work-supposedly penniless but clad, in the stiff illustrations, in an elegantly ruffed, quilted suit-finds quick employment at the Globe and works his way up from fairy to last-minute replacement for Juliet. Tattersfield fills most of her backgrounds with quick splashes of garish color, outfits the Globe with a huge stage and in general imparts little information about either the look and feel of London or the plays in which Sam performs. Child readers will get more rounded, memorable pictures from the likes of Aliki's William Shakespeare and the Globe (1999) or Marcia Williams's Bravo, Mr. William Shakespeare! (2000). (Picture book. 7-9)