The Shakespeare Stealer

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

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 11 reviews

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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 9-year-old Written byKidDad August 5, 2010
I am surprised the CS review does not address the themes of anti-semitism in the Shakespeare Stealer. While historically accurate, there is no context or persp... 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
Teen, 15 years old Written byUnderCoverNarwhal May 7, 2021

The Worst Book I have ever read

This book follows what I think is the most idiotic main character I have even seen out of something that is not like Sponge bob. He has to deal with an abusive... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byKadence L August 19, 2016


I read this book for my summer project and it was pretty good. The only thing I would say is if you haven't studied Shakespeare the language will be hard t... Continue reading

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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love a little heart with their history

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