Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William Shakespeare


In Bailey MacDonald's Wicked Will, a girl traveling with a theater troupe teams up with young Will Shakespeare to clear her uncle of a murder charge.
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Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William Shakespeare

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In Bailey MacDonald's Wicked Will, a girl traveling with a theater troupe teams up with young Will Shakespeare to clear her uncle of a murder charge.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
Tom Prynne is an apprentice player with his uncle's traveling acting company. The secrets he carries are disturbed when they arrive in Stratford and add an incorrigible twelve-year old named Will Shakespeare to their group. Will and Tom become fast friends, with Will causing as many scrapes as he fixes. When the two find the body of a wealthy farmer and Tom's Uncle Matthew is charged with the murder, they set out to solve the crime. The story's adventure is heightened by a clear sense of life in Elizabethan England. Even readers who are unfamiliar with the time period will be able to understand the tension and find excitement in the setting. The language may take some adjustment for younger readers, and not all in the intended age group will understand the significant moments involving youth Shakespeare that will interest those who are familiar with his works. Still, the characters are engaging, with rich details for even minor players, and the mystery is thrilling in its own right. The plot is paced evenly, and the discovery of the truth is smooth and authentic. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Young Viola is masquerading as a boy so that she can travel with impunity with her Uncle Matthew's strolling players. When the troupe arrives in Stratford, 11-year-old Will Shakespeare drives them to distraction with his incessant questions. He promises to keep Viola's identity secret, however, and, when Matthew is falsely accused of murder, Will devises numerous plans—all of which fail—to try to prove the man's innocence. The tale concludes with a dramatic finish—dead bodies all around—in the best tradition of Shakespearean tragedy. Each of the brief 21 chapters begins with the "nut" of a Shakespearean quote, and some readers might recognize bits of dialogue from various plays. The chapters themselves logically reveal the twists and turns of the plot in concise, readable prose. The realistic details put flesh on the bones of not only the primary characters, but also of the secondary personages as well. The joy here, of course, is in seeing the boy Will through the eyes of Viola, a protagonist who views him not with wonder but with disdain. She does admit to his talents, however: his cleverness, his love of intrigue, and his poetic prowess. MacDonald's debut novel is sure to entice readers, both as a story in its own right and as a prompt to explore the life and career of the most famous writer in the English language.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Kirkus Reviews
Some nearly threadbare tropes hold together this fast-paced mystery for middle schoolers, only fraying completely at the end. Will Shakespeare at 12 is irrepressible, full of words and perhaps a little ADHD. His foil is Tom, a member of a group of players, except that Tom is really Viola, living in disguise with her uncle's troupe as her parents are in hiding for helping a Catholic priest escape the Crown. Tom/Viola's uncle and his players come to Stratford-on-Avon, where he is almost immediately accused of murder when a local curmudgeon is bludgeoned to death with the uncle's walking stick. Will, with the unwilling assistance of Tom/Viola, seeks to solve the crime, full of words and scheming and hijinks. The townsfolk spout lines that ring suspiciously familiar, a melodramatic plot twist involving the twin sons of the local curmudgeon ends in a drowning and suicide (offstage) and everyone seems to figure out that Tom is really Viola. Lively and quick, it may offer some small amusement to readers not quite ready for King of Shadows. (Historical fiction. 8-11)
From the Publisher
"Bringful of cleverness...MacDonald entertains, excites, and enlightens alike." -Tom Dietz, author of Windmaster's Bane
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416986614
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 10/5/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 465,468
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Bailey MacDonald is a professional actress and playwright who lives near Atlanta, Georgia. When she is not writing, she performs under a different name with a theater group in that city. Bailey has always loved theater, and when she began to write her first historical mystery, it was a natural choice to select Stratford-on-Avon, the home of the great William Shakespeare, as the setting for a tale of trickery, murder, and detective work.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Kira M for Teens Read Too

    When Viola dresses as a boy and joins her uncle's troupe of traveling players and arrives in Stratford, her uncle gets accused of murder and imprisoned. With the help of Will, a young boy she meets in the troupe, they devise plans to prove the man's innocence, but all fail. Can Will and Viola solve the murder and save her uncle? WICKED WILL is a great adventure-filled mystery. The characters are entertaining and allude to Shakespeare's plays without overpowering the story. The plot is well-developed and keeps the reader's interest. Those who like mystery, historical fiction, and adventure will all enjoy reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

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