I didn’t like the cover picture for Shakespeare’s Secret. The children look sly and somewhat mean. I quickly got into the story and then had to read it just about non stop. I think boys or girls would enjoy the book, probably starting from about age 9.
A family moves into an old house where a large diamond was stolen, lost or hidden. The girls are named Beatrice and Hero after characters in Shakespeare’s plays. Their father is a Shakespeare scholar. Beatrice is blond, older and seems to make friends fairly easily. Hero is dark, shyer, and tends to get teased, especially about her name. On her first day of school, one of the girls in the class blurts out that Hero is her dog’s name. Hero has to put up with kids saying, “Here, Girl, here” and woofing at her for days.
She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Miriam Roth, the elderly lady across the street. Miriam does crosswords with her and tells her the story of the Murphy diamond. Soon Danny Cordova, an 8th grader girls swoon over, starts making friends with Hero and before she knows it she confides in him and they start searching for the diamond together. His dad is the police chief and the case of the missing diamond is still open.
Miriam has a beautiful necklace that has belonged to Mrs. Murphy who was decended from a favored courtier of Elizabeth I’s. Soon Hero finds a quickening interest in Anne Bolyn, Elizabeth, Shakespeare, and de Vere as they search for the diamond, which belongs on the pendant of the 500 year old necklace.
The story is told with lots of kid dialog which is very realistic. The book points up the positive values of having one’s family and the hold that is left when a family member or dear friend leaves. This is the author’s first book for children. I hope she writes more of them.
Broach, Elise. (2005). Shakespeare’s Secret. Henry Holt and Company, ISBN 13-978-0-8050-7387-4, 250 pages.