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Shakespeare's Scribe

Shakespeare's Scribe

4.7 10
by Gary Blackwood

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When an outbreak of the deadly Black Plague closes the Globe Theatre, William Shakespeare's acting troupe sets off on a tour of England. Widge, the orphan-turned-actor, knows that he'll be useful on the trip. Not only does he love the stage, but his knack for a unique shorthand has proven him one of the most valuable apprentices in the troupe. But then a mysterious


When an outbreak of the deadly Black Plague closes the Globe Theatre, William Shakespeare's acting troupe sets off on a tour of England. Widge, the orphan-turned-actor, knows that he'll be useful on the trip. Not only does he love the stage, but his knack for a unique shorthand has proven him one of the most valuable apprentices in the troupe. But then a mysterious man appears, claiming to know a secret from Widge's past-a secret that may forever force him from the theatre he loves.

"An exciting, well-written tale that is sure to leave [readers] clamoring for more." (School Library Journal, starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Widge, the orphan who infiltrated the Lord Chamberlain's Men acting troupe in The Shakespeare Stealer, returns. Now a bona fide member of the troupe, he acts as amanuensis to the Bard (who has broken his arm) in the writing of All's Well That Ends Well. Ages 10-14. (Feb.)n Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
In Shakespeare's Scribe, the sequel to the popular The Shakespeare Stelaer, Gary Blackwood leaps back in time once more to explore the life of Widge, an orphan struggling to survive in Elizabethan England. In the earlier book, Widge struggles against wicked men trying to use his skill of charactery. In the sequel, Widge's struggles are more with his own identity and with the vicious threat of the Black Plague tearing through the land. But, amid such absorbing issues, the teenager finds time to treat Shakespeare's broken arm and help the bard create some of the greatest lines from his plays. With touches of tragedy and humor, Blackwood walks us through effects of the deadly Black plague and a gritty view of life back then. While this book takes on a more soap-opera tone with the parentage issue of illnesses, Blackwood continues to offer a compelling and engaging lesson in history. Genre: Historical Fiction. 2000, Dutton Children's Books, 265 pp., $15.99. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Lori Atkins-Goodson; Wamego, Kansas
Due to the outbreak of the Black Plague and the closing of the Globe Theatre, the acting troop of Lord Chamberlain's Men, which happens to include William Shakespeare and his brother, are forced to tour England. When Shakespeare's arm is broken, the young Widge steps in with his writing skills as the master works on his plays. In this delightful sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer, Blackwood presents a realistic peek into this fascinating period of history. Widge, who serves as narrator, gives us some gruesome looks into the deadly effects of the plague. His skills in medicine help the traveling caravan of struggling actors and often save the day. Widge is a wonderful character, with insight, humor and all the miseries of a typical adolescent. Trying to locate his mother, the orphan runs into a mysterious man who might well be his father. Both Widge and the reader are pulled along as the man proves a great friend, but sadly, not the young man's father. As the troop moves from town to town trying to outmaneuver both the plague and the Earl of Pembroke's Men, another traveling acting troop, Widge proves to be both resourceful and talented. One of his fellow actors and another apprentice, Sal Pavy, is also extremely talented but haughty and mysterious. Here is another wonderful character who is more than we expect. Between the language, the colorful characters and the settings, Shakespeare's Scribe provides an excellent look at history in a most entertaining way. Hopefully another volume will follow in these wonderful adventures. (Sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer) Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Penguin,Puffin, 266p., , Des Plaines,
Children's Literature
The gripping plot of Blackwood's second book, the well-developed characters, and Elizabethan England setting all contribute to an exciting read for the 10- to 13-year-old reader. Widge, the orphaned main character, becomes an apprentice to Shakespeare's Chamberlain players. Due to fears about the Black Plague, the Queen declares an end to group gatherings in London. The company then opts to tour the countryside where many exciting adventures befall them. During these travels, Widge carefully weighs ethical questions concerning loyalty and right and wrong, giving readers many opportunities to form their own opinions. Despite the fictional setting, historical details about the time period and the design of the Globe Theater as well as backstage activities are accurately portrayed. Humor and suspense add to the enjoyment of this book, and as Shakespeare would say, "All's well that ends well." 2002 (orig. 2000), Puffin/Penguin, Ages 10 to 13.
— Ellie Elzerman
In this sequel to Blackwood's award-winning The Shakespeare Stealer (Dutton, 1998/VOYA August 1998), Widge, a fifteen-year-old orphan, has become an apprentice in William Shakespeare's acting company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men. He is valued both for his talent on the stage and for his skills in shorthand and medicine. When the plague strikes London in 1602, however, the theaters are ordered closed, and the actors must take to the road. Widge's newly developed sense of self-respect is severely tested, first, when another child actor begins to steal his roles, and later when Jamie Redshaw, a gambler and former soldier who might be his father, is accused of making off with the acting company's receipts. Blackwood keeps his plot moving smoothly, adding just enough information about Shakespeare, his plays, early seventeenth-century theater practice—such as boys playing women's roles—and contemporary English culture to provide a solid sense of place. In Widge he has found an entirely believable protagonist. The novel is less spectacular in its plot and style than is Susan Cooper's recent Shakespearean fantasy, King of Shadows (McElderry, 1999/VOYA December 1999), but it provides a more realistic introduction to the period. This well-done tale should appeal particularly to readers who love historical fiction or who have an interest in the theater, and it is a recommended purchase for any general middle school collection. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Dutton, 224p, $15.99. Ages 12 to 14. Reviewer: Michael Levy

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In this sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer (Dutton, 1998), Widge has become a "prentice" to the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Will Shakespeare's acting troupe. Besides acting many of the female roles, the youngster uses his skills in "swift writing" to decipher Shakespeare's scribbles and provide individual scripts for each actor. When the plague closes the theatres in London, the players take to the road, but uncooperative company members, brigands, fire, and hostile officials make traveling a challenge. In addition, Widge loses some key roles to an uppity new prentice and wrestles with his emotions as he meets a man who claims to be his father. Through it all, he learns to recognize his own worth and the importance of true friends, and this, of course, is the crux of the story. As with his earlier title, Blackwood has created a vivid portrait of Elizabethan England via wonderful period details, along with plenty of references to the plays and life "upon the wicked stage." The story is extremely well structured, with several interesting subplots; the chapters end at just the right moment, leaving readers eager to plunge ahead. The characters are well developed, with Widge being particularly memorable. The dialogue is realistic, and the humorous plays on words add another level of interest. An exciting, well-written tale that is sure to leave young thespians clamoring for more.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Every bit as brawling and vigorous as its prequel, The Shakespeare Stealer (1998), this takes young Widge, apprentice actor, on tour with Shakespeare's own Chamberlain's Men, to meet challenges to life and livelihood while unearthing clues to his hidden past. After the threat of plague closes London's theaters, the company sets off to play smaller towns, leaving Widge's friend Sander behind but hiring malicious, talented Salathiel Pavy away from another troupe to help portray the women and children. One by one, Sal begins taking over roles that once were Widge's: welcome relief, at first, as Widge has plenty of other duties, including taking dictation for Will, who has broken an arm in the midst of composing a play tentatively titled Love's Labours Won, to present to the Queen. Soon, however, an unfriendly rivalry develops between the two apprentices. Then, Widge gets a double shock: revisiting the orphanage where he spent his first few years, he learns his mother's name, and ex-soldier Jamie Redshaw steps forward, claiming to be his father. Mixing swordplay and wordplay measure for measure—" ‘He may vote as he will . . . for the will of the company outweighs the will of Will, will he or nil he . . . And the weal of the company . . . outweighs the weal of Will as well.' " Blackwood creates a vivid picture of the times, as the company encounters brigands, widespread fear of the plague, and internal dissension. When Redshaw is revealed as the Elizabethan equivalent of a con-man, Widge is forced to make some agonizing choices; he returns to London alone, just in time to see Sander die of plague. Then, screwing his courage to thestickingplace, he challenges Sal to an actors' duel, to see who would make the better Helena in the new play, now dubbed All's Well That Ends Well. A first-rate tale, with a strong cast and plenty of insight into stagecraft and the art of acting. (Fiction. 11-13)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet 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's Scribe 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read the other two books in this series and they were wonderful as well, normally i don't read very many historical-type books, but these are definetly an excpetion! the characters are well developed and the plot has just the right amount of suspense and action...
Guest More than 1 year ago
My teacher told me to read The Shakespeare Stealer and it was great. When I found out there was a sequel, I immediately went to the library and got it. This book was wonder, better than the first one by a whole lot! I would recommened this book to peole who won't be too grossed out if someone died, and for some people that enjoys sad-near-the-end but ending is good books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the Shakespeare Stealer, so I was thrilled when I found out there was a sequel to it, so I could find out what would become of Widge. Gary Blackwood brought me onto the stage of an Elizabethan theater, along with Widge, and I found myself wanting to be a player, just like Widge! I could really relate to all the characters, and whenever Widge was happy or sad, I felt the same way. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book makes a great end to the story of Widge that began in the Shakespeare Stealer. I enjoyed how both books brought you onto the Elizabethan stage, and they both made me want to be a player like Widge! I niver lost interest in the plot of either book, and was thrilled to find out about this sequel to the Shakespeare Stealer so I could find out what became of Widge. All of the characters seemed so real to me. I could really relate to the characters and the players; when Widge felt happy or sad, so did I. I had a lot of fun reading these two excellent novels by Gary Blackwood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
Widge is a fifteen-year-old orphan boy who has become an apprentice actor in William Shakespeare’s troupe, known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It is the summer of 1602, and the bubonic plague is rearing its ugly head. Theaters in London are closed down, so Widge goes on the road with the rest of the company, except for his best friend Alexander (Sander) Cooke, who stays behind. When they get to York, Widge visits the orphanage where he was raised and learns a little more about his mother. He also finds a man named Jamie Redshaw who gives some evidence of possibly being his father and begins travelling with the players. Will Shakespeare breaks his arm, and Widge, with his ability to write in shorthand which was taught to him by one of his previous masters, Dr. Timothy Bright, can easily take dictation while Shakespeare strives to continue writing plays. However, a number of strange things start to happen, and they all seem to revolve around Jamie Redshaw. Is he really Widge’s father or not? Also, a new apprentice, Salathiel Pavy, seems to be trying to take away many of the roles which Widge has done. Can Widge remain with the troupe, or will he be replaced? And when Widge returns to London, he finds that Sander has disappeared. What has happened to his friend? Shakespeare's Scribe is a sequel to Blackwell’s The Shakespeare Stealer, which introduced Widge as a boy hired to steal a play by Shakespeare by copying it down in shorthand who then ends up joining the company. I enjoyed The Shakespeare Stealer, so I thought that I would read the sequel. It gives a good view for young people of what life was like in early seventeenth-century England. A few language issues occur, with a couple of instances of the “d” word and some places where the term “Lord” is used as an interjection. The usual excuse for including such things is to make the plot more “realistic,” but for the life of me I really can’t understand some writers’ compulsion to do such things in a children’s book. A number of references to drinking beer, ale, and brandy are found, and there is a somewhat crude joke involving a person’s “bum.” Some parents may also question the age appropriateness of including the fact that Shakespeare’s brother Edmund (Ned) left his previous residence to join the company because he had “gotten a prominent landowner’s daughter with child.” And, of course, it turns out that Widge’s mother was unwed. It is a somewhat mixed bag, but for the most part the story is quite interesting, although I would recommend it primarily for those on the older end of the suggested reading level. There is now a third book in the series, Shakespeare's Spy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was way better than the first book. I absolutly loved it. It has everything a great book needs, Shakespeare, the plague, death, a hint of love, the finding of a lost family member, loosing someone special, lies, ect.... This book was wonderfully writen. I loved every part of it, with the exception of the death of Sander. The author didn't spend enough time on it. When I was reading it and learned he was alive then in a matter of sentences he was dead. Then the burial was over and there was not much more to be said on the matter. It was very sad. In my opinion it was much better than the first.... I would recomend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
wow, this book is amazing. i mean, who wouldn't like this book? its wayyy better than the first one. and i thought the first one rocked. so yea deffinitly read it!!! oh and there's a third one too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was way better than the the first one! It was much funnier and Shakespeare was in it much more. This book rocks I mean what's not to love a boy, a play, England, and Shakespeare all rolled into one! This is a must read. I liked it so much I even gave the whole serise to my teacher.