Jack and Annie are no strangers to adventure. Through the discovery of a magic tree house, the siblings have met a magical librarian, traveled through time, solved ancient riddles, and helped save Camelot. In this escapade, they find themselves in Elizabethan England. With only a book about 16th-century England to help them, they must solve a secret rhyme: "To find a special magic,/You must step into the light/And without wand, spell, or charm,/Turn daytime into night." Along the way, the kids meet a playwright who requires serious help. He needs two people to appear in his play -- and fast! Jack and Annie agree and soon find themselves onstage, performing A Midsummer Night's Dream. And they discover that the mysterious playwright is none other than William Shakespeare! The Bard's magical language and superlative theater soon help them solve the riddle.
Author Mary Pope Osborne has achieved great success with the Magic Tree House series. With exciting story lines and a heavy dose of truly interesting historical facts, Osborne succeeds in enchanting younger readers into a world where learning is fun. In Stage Fright on a Summer Night, she includes a letter to readers explaining that the theater is one of her passions and that she drew upon her own experiences of stage fright and sheer excitement to crate Jack and Annie's reactions onstage. Osborne also includes a list of many of the words and expressions Shakespeare introduced into literature -- such as "All the world's a stage" from As You Like It and "Parting is such sweet sorrow" from Romeo and Juliet. A delightful journey into the world of Merrie England and a fantastic introduction to the world of Shakespeare. (Amy Barkat)