Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William Shakespeare

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9781416986607: Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William Shakespeare

The play’s the thing . . .

To the outside world, Tom Pryne is an orphan traveling Elizabethan England with his uncle’s theater troupe. In actuality, “Tom” is Viola, in disguise because her parents’ Catholic sympathies have put them at odds with the Crown and forced them into hiding. When the troupe arrives in the sleepy little town of Stratford-on-Avon, Viola’s uncle is arrested for murder, and she joins forces with an irksome local boy, named Will Shakespeare, with an active imagination, a penchant for trouble, and a smart turn of phrase, to uncover the real culprit. A perfect blend of humor, drama, and adventure and a rich evocation of 16th-century England inform this fresh and original historical mystery that introduces an appealing pair of amateur sleuths.

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About 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.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 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
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