Shakespeare's Spy

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Shakespeare's Spy Book Poster Image
Shakespearean adventure is accessible for tweens.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A wealth of period detail, political machinations, back alleys of London, and information about playwriting add to the interest and educational value. Includes author's note, which separates fact from fiction.

Positive Messages

Underneath the Shakespearian theme and all the intrigue there is a coming-age-story about a brave boy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Widge is a relatable character (he even has a crush on a headstrong girl) -- and he tries to do what he can to help the company. In the end, he comes into a new identity.


A punch in the stomach.


Mentioned without description or explanation: selling favors, forced attentions, illegitimate child, and affairs. Widge has a huge crush on Shakespeare's headstrong daughter, Judith.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking is mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Shakespearian-themed novel is the third in a series. Readers will learn about the rigors of writing a play, as well as the politics of the period. Anti-Catholic actions by the government and individuals figure into the plot, and anti-Jewish sentiment in Elizabethan London is mentioned. Readers will be pleased to find an author's note, which separates fact from fiction.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 16 years old Written bylupasalbus99 November 1, 2012

The above review is unfair.

The review for this was completely unfair. This book does not contain any sexual content. Do not listen to the review above this! It isn't any good. I read... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008


This book has a wonderful beginning and end. I have read every book in this seires and loved them all.

What's the story?

Widge, an orphan boy taken in as an apprentice by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's theater company, has a new set of problems: he's got a huge crush on Shakespeare's headstrong daughter, Judith, he's trying to write a play to impress her, properties belonging to the company are being stolen, there's a spy in the company, their patron, his friend Julia, is in trouble in France, the Queen is ailing, and more. Includes author's note, which separates fact from fiction.

Is it any good?

The first two books in this series were Elizabethan larks, full of action, swordplay, and theatrical business; unfortunately, the first half of this one drags. Widge moons interminably over Judith, a shallow, spoiled, and annoying girl whose appeal to the otherwise sensible Widge is mystifying. Once Judith finally departs, and Widge gets involved in plots to help the company, Julia, her father, and others, the story picks up, and those young readers who have made it this far will finally find the enjoyable story they were expecting. A wealth of period detail, political machinations, back alleys of London, and information about playwriting add to the interest and educational value.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about historical fiction. Why is it interesting? Are you more likely to remember things that you read in a story like this one, or in history books that strictly teach facts? Do you ever get confused by what's real or not? Why is it important to learn about things that happened long ago?

  • Shakespearian stories continue to be popular today -- and read in school. Why do you think that is? On this page, you can check out the list of Shakespearian spinoffs that the Bard's work has inspired. Do any of those titles interest you? Why do you think modern writers like to play with his work?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history and historical fiction

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate