Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

The Shakespeare Stealer

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Shakespeare Stealer Book Poster Image
A fresh look at Shakespeare for young readers.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A plucky orphan falls in love with acting in this swashbuckling adventure story. There are some mentions of Anti-Jewish sentiment in Elizabethan London, but on a whole this a fun, breezy read. 

Positive Role Models & Representations
Widge lies often, and plans to steal Shakespeare's work, but decides not to.

Swordplay leads to wounds, blood, and death.


It is mentioned that the married Shakespeare may be having an affair.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An older teen drinks to excess on several occasions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book includes some swordplay that leads to wounds and death. There's also some teen drinking, lying, and a mention of an affair.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bypeony April 9, 2008

Fun and interesting Shakespeare tie-in; some anti-Semitism depicted

Quite enjoyable. The Shakespeare tie-in is nicely done: not only with some language, and background of particular plays being performed, but even that the part... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 year old Written bysuedeani January 4, 2010

Another side to Shakespeare

This book provides a wonderful back door entry in to the world of Shakespeare. It gives a realistic idea of what it was like to live during that period. It show... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008

The best book I have ever read!!!!

This book is about a boy named Widge, and he is an orphan. He gets sold to a man who wants him to steal the play of Hamlet by William Shakespeare. So Widge has... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bymenmedrano April 9, 2008

it was fun

its a good book about the olod days and adventure

What's the story?

When orphaned Widge is apprenticed to Dr. Bright, he learns the doctor's method of shorthand and is bought by Simon Bass, who wants Widge to steal Shakespeare's newest play, Hamlet, by transcribing it secretly. Once inside the Globe Theater, Widge is enthralled by the play and taken in by the company as an apprentice. Soon Widge is torn by his fear of his master, his loyalty to the people who have treated him as a friend, and his growing desire to continue as an actor.

Is it any good?

What more could you want in an adventure: There's a plucky orphan, swashbuckling swordplay, Elizabethan theater, a girl posing as a boy, and a dastardly villain who's not what he seems. As a nice bonus, Gary Blackwood's THE SHAKESPEARE STEALER also illuminates an interesting problem: the stealing of plays in Elizabethan England. With its fast pace, unusual setting, and even more unusual crime, this has found a ready audience among the upper elementary and middle school set.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ethical dilemma Widge is in: to risk his life or betray his new friends. With a little luck, children may want to know more about the Shakespearean plays mentioned here.

Book details

For kids who love a little heart with their history

Our editors recommend

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 and learning potential.

Learn how we rate