Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shakespeare Stealer

I'm really excited to start studying the novel The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood with my seventh graders. I've always loved Shakespeare because of his brilliance with the English language. I've had the pleasure of seeing many Shakespeare plays on stage, including The Tempest, Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I've also had the privilege of travelling to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Shakespeare's birthplace and grammar school, as well as Anne Hathaway's cottage, and even two plays at the reconstructed Globe: King Lear and Othello. I took my one-year-old son, Gabriel to King Lear, and we were groundlings (perfect for a wandering toddler), and I took a group of high school students from my school in China to a showing of Othello. Although it was freezing, it was an experience of a lifetime!


  1. Boo! That was my attention grabbing sentence. You have to admit it did get your attention. Well, I'm really excited to get cracking on this unit on Shakespeare. In class we are reading Macbeth. I've tried reading Shakespeare's plays before and failed, badly. We are also reading the Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood. So far I've read the first four chapters and are loving it! I don't know that much about Shakespeare so I decided to do a little research about him before we get very deep in to this unit. I found a website but when you comment you can't link. I personally think it's a little strange to name your sonnets by number like: Sonnet 76 or something. I at least give my poems acurate titles. I wrote this poem about Shakespeare and named it How You Confuse Me. I'll post it at the bottom of the post so you don't have to scroll too much. I made it in one minutes so don't blame me if it's a piece of trash! Anyway, back to topic. So I'm loving The Shakespeare Stealer. It's about a boy with a weird name who is told by his scary master that he has to steal Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, or else. Ohh, scary! So he goes to the Globe Theatre and get's a job there. The troup take him in as one of their own so he is hesitant to steal something as precious as a play from them. Will he do it? I don't know and if you do know then, don't tell me please! I said please so don't. So, I'm going to go now. Bye!

    How You Confuse Me
    How you confuse me,
    Your strange language,
    Your weird set up,
    And unidentifying sonnet titles,
    LA teachers please help me understand,
    I'm at a loss to figure out what he's saying,
    Who uses "thou" and "thee"?
    Surely only people who have fallen out of a tree!

  2. Sebastien

    So far i've read ch 1-7 and I like the shakespear stealer, write know because widge just got his assignment, and he's headed off to london. He can't even think straight because he loves the play no much and he couldn't write down everything. I think its pretty funny. It must be hard to read scribbles and if he doesn't get the whole play on friday he's dead.
    We also started the play hamlet in class, its a little hard to understand but i like it enough. Why doesn't hamlet just go and kill his uncle? He could in his sleep but he's to scared.

    Well i think i'm gonna like this unit
    so don't tell me ANYTHING about Shakespeare

  3. Chapter 5-7 was not so good to me in The Shakespeare Stealer. The thing that made it not so good is that Widge, who you think would get the gob done messes up or at least that was what I got from it, he got to interested in the play and did not finish the copy thing. It also kind of left me hanging at those chapter endings and I did not feeling to half to read a drop off.

  4. Third Response
    Go Widge!!!!! Finally he is doing something better than copying plays!!!!!!!! He is a player, I think that means actor but it comes in a package where you have to be a girl and scoop dung. I think I would like that more than just copying with Dr.Bright those squiggles. Thanks to the book I just found out the ending to Hamlet... :( . It serves him right he was grumpy and selfish...moody teenager.In the book Gary Blackwood mentioned "Hamlet is the master of melancholy" that suits him. Falconer is shocking that he was like "by the way i killed somebody,but it is all cool." Death was very excepted back then because many people didn't live long. I was wondering if the Globe actually had an almost fire. I found out from WIki answers it did burn down completely when (just like in the book) the cannon goes crazy and the roof is set ablaze. But it was rebuilt. Shakespeare was really a ghost in Hamlet and there is historical fact of that. I am glad Widge finally has a better job as one of the members of Lord Chamberlains Company.

  5. Second Response
    Now, The Shakespeare Stealer is getting interesting. There is some funny language in it for example what is a dolt?? Widge has just found out who his master is... and is set out to do the copying of Hamlet. "Now someone sooner or later will pry this Tragedy of Hamlet from the hands of its poet.....just as they did with Romeo and Juliet and Titus Andronicus."(33) Looks like that the modern day pirating happened back then, but with plays. This is quite unfortunate, somebody needed to invent the law "copyright". Widge isn't very educated due to all the "ayes" and "wis". He sounds like a pirate. I did not know what Lord Chamberlain's men were, so I Goolged it and found out that it was a play company that Shakespeare for in his career. It was also one of the two leading companies in London, at the time. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Chamberlain's_Men)
    On page 46 there is mention of bearbatings.. Thats really cruel and it is a crime against animals, How do people like watching that?????Hopefully Widge does not get yelled at when he comes back with half the play...

  6. First Response
    Well, The Shakespeare Stealer has gotten off to a not very interesting start. The first couple of sentences were not attention grabbers to me. I felt that it was like every other book that starts off I was born...... When I got to the next chapters things started really shaping up. The cloaked man which has been newly introduced is very mysterious. I am starting to predict this is an angry actor and is taking Widge to London. This angry man is going to ask him to steal the play. In the end I am really thinking the angry actor will be Shakespeare himself ! There were a few points in the book I am rather curious about... One was "England is a paradise for women, a prison for servants, and a hell for horses."(7) I have no idea how they came up with that????? There were bandits with swords sounds like the movie Ever After, that was set some what in the same time period. The orphanages don't sound a lot different to some of those today. What is wrong is they use to beat children which is very horrible. The time period in which this is set in isn't very pleasant... I feel bad for Shakespeare and the other people living there.. :(

  7. I love the last chapters because of the excitement of Widge being saved by Julian. I think Julian is actually a girl because of his/her name, the way he/her saved Widge, and Hugh, the guy that was with Julian when he/she rescued Widge said ma’am to Julian. *sings* I pay attention *finishes singing* It was a very fun chapter. I think maybe he should stop going by Widge and cut his hair in a London style to stop being teased by Nick. Stopping using ‘country language’ would help him too with that. ‘Ken’ is just not going to cut it in the streets of London. If he was in Aberdeen or somewhere in Scotland I say, ‘Go for it!’ but in London refrain from speaking like that. You will get beaten up or teased. On a lighter note, I think that Blackwood will get Widge and Julian, if he/she, is a girl together. You know what writing he/she and him/her all the time is getting annoying. It will always be ‘hesh’ or ‘hir’. That’s way easier. Back to what I was saying, authors always give the protagonist a girl or guy at the end or at least a long lasting friendship that will never break. But this is fiction. You will not find your ‘one’ after gallivanting through London being a country lad and being a hero. In fact, it’s pretty darn impossible that you will have a great adventure anyway.

  8. Widge! That was my attention grabbing sentence. I know it has your attention now, right? Well I love the chapters 11, 12, 13, because widge is in the group of players. when he is in the practice lessons, he gets to practice his fencing. After he goes with sander, nick starts bullying him. Julian steps in and helps widge, but i think widge should of just let himself be bullied because he kind of deserves it.
    I think its funny when falconer is classing him because he gets lost and ends up being robbed by two guys in an ally.

  9. Nice going Widge !!!!! you could be more crazy....... Jeez when you run away you are not supposed to get caught... not only was he seen but he ran and got lost. I am glad that the nice farmer helped him,but evil people with daggers came up to him. I don't think london was very safe back then,lots of crime. He should carry a dagger, he does on the front cover what happened to that one. I think that Gary Blackwood could have made a more interesting blurb, because that was pretty average. The best blurber (is that an name for a person who blurbs?) is probably Stephanie Meyer. She is captivating...I totally think that Juilan is a girl! It is Behind Rebel Lines all over again. The name is a transgender name. She has attitude. "Oh it is nothing against us... He's a modest one."(89-90) Sander is blinded.. she just doesn't want to reveal her identity. Is that a crime to be a women actor then? I found out that it was disgraceful up until the 17th century. I can't find out if it is a crime though... :( . Can't wait to read more!!!!! I need to find out what happens!!! WHY do teachers,movies,books and episodes do this???? It gets soooo interesting and it is like TO BE CONTINUE!!!!!! I hate those words :'(

  10. You guys crack me up!! What varied responses. I am noticing that the young men in this class seem to be a bit more "taciturn" than the young ladies. Boys, I would like to challenge you to EXPAND YOUR IDEAS, and girls, I would like to challenge you to STAY ON TOPIC more!! Aless, I didn't know that Shakespeare was the ghost in Hamlet. Very interesting. I also like the fact that "players" back then had all kinds of responsibilities. Can you imagine superstars today shovelling dung and moving props? This kind of multi-tasking was done by Shakespeare, and gave him a bigger picture of the industry. Has anyone stumbled upon S's "Lost Years" yet? What do you think he was up to?

    As for Julia/Julian, I like Leighia's hesh/hir approach. Aless says that this cross-dressing seems to be a 7th grade theme in LA this year. It certainly was in S's comedies. Most of them revolve around mistaken identities. We'll watch execerpts of Shakespeare in Love, which also touches on this theme of cross-dressing and gender roles in S's day.

    About the possible romance b/t J & W, you'll have to read until the end to find out, but that would be a good Q to ask Mr. Blackwood when we conference with him...

    I'd like you guys to do more research into the setting of this story. What was late 16th century London like? How violent was it? What was the average lifespan/lifestyle? When was the great fire of London and the plague?

    I agree I'm glad I didn't live there back then. Sounds dirty and COLD!

    Have fun with Widge & Company!!

  11. I really, really don't want to live in 16th centurary England. It's nasty! Most people only lived to be 35 if they were VERY lucky. I put the link at the bottom of the post so you can visit it. Ms. Gertz how do you know it's Julia not Juliet? Have you read ahead? Hmmm? I think it's Falconer who has gone and grabbed him. I wonder what's in store for Widge once he finds that he doesn't have the script...


  12. Good job widge!!!! Getting trapped by the guys with daggers, like come on run away or someting. Go Julian, if he wasn't there Widge would lose an ear. Leighia I also think that ists falconer, but theres a chance that I might be one of the players like NIck!! I also agree that I would HATE living back then because you live till 35 then you are so dead. I have a site below which tells a little about shakespeare's sonnets, i think almost every one?


  13. Wednesday, 7 April 2010
    At least Widge didn't get murdered or something like that and Juilian saved him again. Widge needs to learn how to stick up for himself. I am glad Shakespeare finally showed up in the book. He has quite the sense of humor,but Widge doesn't relize he is messing with him.... He was like he looks like a gypsy, and I found a picture of him with an earring and he does look like a pirate/gypsy. He sounds kinda crazy with the staring out into space. Widge is devolping a bit of an attitude he didn't even say sorry when he snapped at Sander like that. It's funny that they have to paint the new roof, the white would look really dumb in the middle of all that red. Nice going Widge!! dropping a brush on Shakespeare....Somebody needs to throw out Nick he is awfull and they don't need another player specially a mean,lazy,and hairy player. Widge shouldn't steal the play,yes he has great opportunity, but he should just stay with the players and enjoy the time he his having there. Stage make up sounds like a really big deal. I wonder what they make the paint out of?

  14. I think I should finish reading this soon....My english is getting worse and I am starting to use words like ain't. My mom is always correcting me. I totally agree with Mrs.Gertz that Juilan and Widge will be a couple!!!! You can kinda already tell. These chapters are getting good, I had to tell myself to stop reading! I Have too much Hw and a dinner party to go to. It is super gross that they use sheep's blood for the dramatic effect, clever, but animal cruelty!!!!! If there was an M.U.N club back then this would be an issue. I thought that Widge using the toilet in a helmet is gross and werid, What if someone put it on. Thats really sad that Juilan's mom died of the plague. I found this article from this site (http://www.britainexpress.com/History/medieval/black-death.htm) It is really nasty the symptoms you get!!! I am glad Widge is getting more duties. He probably is a great actor. I think he should just stay in the threarte and never go back to Falconer, this book is getting a lit disneyish because in the end it probably turns out that good beats evil. I know that Nick is "family" but they should through him out anyway if he can't get back into tip-top shape. I think the book Widge had is going to be found and they are going to recognize that it is Widge's handwriting. Rule number one of staying alive and safe , no showing people your handwriting/ code. Finished Hamlet today, why does everyone have to die??

  15. I love these chapters because.... well i don't know there just cool. Its funny when Widge and Julian are in the forest with sander and they all have a fight and wrestle, Good idea Leighia about Julian and widge will be a couple because it seems they like each other.... And good idea that they might find the paper with special writing and Sander will bust him.
    Well nick is technically family but he acts like a total jerk and can't handle being the loser, or being a girl.
    I always wondered what happend after everyone dies in hamlet, well look at this site and it helps figure it out.

  16. Shakespear!!!
    I think Shakespear is coolio person. I love some of the plays he's made, but my favorite is The Tragedy of Hamlet. I find it awesome that he was a playwrite and an actor. I wonder what he was doing in the lost years of his timeline, i think he was secretly marrying a better wife. If he didn't take school would he of become the same person? No one knows so heres a site that has cool facts about shakespear. http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/resources/shakespeare-facts.htm

  17. The tragedy of Hamlet is one of shakespeares best plays to my opinion. Hamlet in the play seems to be a modern day teenager, because he is always whining about stuff. I think Claudius is just a major jerk, because he kills his brother to become king, now that is a pretty lame. Who becomes king after everyone dies in the play? Well heres a site that can help with that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamlet

  18. The last chapters of the book are so exiting!!! I love when nick gets mad at the protective plate and accidentally stabs Julian, who is then found as being a Juliet. I think its nice that Widge gets to be the queen in the play since nick kind of quit. The part were nick is drunk at the bar is hilarious because he gets beaten by a school student and is stabbed in the throat.
    I love the last chapters because nick steals the play and Mr Armin and Widge chase after him, they can't catch him and then falconer gets the play. In the end Mr. Armin and Falconer have a duel and widge takes the play book back from flaconers horse. Mr. Armin Kills falconer and flaconer shows his real face and ends up being Simon Bass....... Well i love the book probably one of the best i've read.