Reviews for Shakespeare's Secret


Booklist Reviews 2005 May #1
Gr. 6-9. As usual, sixth-grader Hero's Shakespearean name prompts teasing in her new school, and her loving parents are clueless about her difficulties. Then intriguing, elderly neighbor Mrs. Roth tells her about the enormous diamond rumored to be hidden in Hero's new house. Helped by Mrs. Roth and cute eighth-grader Danny, Hero launches into a stealthy search that unearths links between the diamond's original owner and Edward de Vere, a nobleman believed by some to be the original author of Shakespeare's plays. Broach is an Elizabethan scholar, and she follows the story's detailed historical references with an endnote that further explains the true, fascinating debate about de Vere. The frequent Shakespearean quotes often feel purposeful, and the connections between clues seem too far reaching. But Broach writes with an assured sense of family dynamics and middle-school anxieties, and sophisticated readers, particularly fans of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (2004), will appreciate the true emotions, the rich language, and the revelations of many-layered mysteries that tie the past to the present. ((Reviewed May 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
When sixth-grader Hero, daughter of a Shakespearian scholar, learns that a mysterious diamond is hidden in her new house, she teams up with eighth-grade heartthrob Danny and an elderly neighbor to find the treasure. Packed with coincidences, contrivances, and sixth-grade angst, this Shakespeare-laden mystery is absorbing until it strains credibility too far. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 April #2
Sixth-grader Hero Netherfield knows she's in trouble when, on her first day at her new school in Maryland, a classmate unthinkingly announces that Hero is her dog's name. Despite the inevitable humiliations that ensue, things look up for Hero when she discovers that her family (including her beautiful older sister Beatrice, graphic-designer mom and Shakespeare-obsessed dad) has moved into the "Murphy Diamond House," where a centuries-old, million-dollar diamond might be hidden. Mrs. Roth, the kindly next-door neighbor, plies Hero with cinnamon toast and tantalizing information about said diamond, and they become fast friends with each other . . . and, interestingly, with the cutest, most popular boy in the eighth grade, Danny Cordova. The plot thickens as Mrs. Roth reveals that she is in possession of the Elizabethan necklace that once held the missing Murphy diamond, an artifact that may even help illuminate the much-debated identity of Shakespeare himself. More linear and traditionally evidence-driven than Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (2004), this agreeable history-mystery may have even more appeal to budding sleuths. (author's note, historical timeline) (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 June
Gr 4-7-Hero has always hated her Shakespearean-based name, for, as her new sixth-grade classmates are quick to tell her, it's better suited to a dog than to a girl. Resigned to their constant teasing, she concentrates instead on her newfound friendship with her kindly, if somewhat eccentric, elderly next-door neighbor. Mrs. Roth tells Hero about the missing "Murphy Diamond," a precious jewel that supposedly disappeared from the house where Hero now lives. Mrs. Roth has the necklace that once held the diamond, an heirloom that possibly once belonged to Anne Boleyn, and she is convinced that it is still hidden in the vicinity. She and Hero set out to find what the police could not, and, with help from Danny, a popular yet self-assured eighth grader who befriends them both, they succeed. Only then do the real connections among the three of them come to the surface and change their lives forever. The mystery alone will engage readers, but Broach adds a number of other interesting details to entice her audience. Readers will also find numerous facts about Elizabethan history, theories about Shakespeare's writings, and, perhaps most importantly, a moral but not preachy tale. The main characters are all well developed, and the dialogue is both realistic and well planned. Girls will relate to Hero and the defenses that she uses to protect herself from being hurt by the cruel comments and behaviors of difficult classmates. This is a good choice for recreational reading but also useful as an intro to either the complexities of Shakespeare or the tenets of good mystery writing.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2005 August
In this well-crafted and engaging literary mystery, twelve-year-old Hero, the new kid in school again, discovers from her elderly neighbor and the police chief's son that a seventeen-carat diamond is hidden in her family's new house. The trio's search, guided by a Dylan Thomas quotation and fueled by Hero's research of the owner's maiden name, leads them to Anne Boleyn, who probably passed the diamond to Elizabeth I, who gave it to her illegitimate son, Edward de Vere, possibly the real Shakespeare. Their journey and discovery reveal that Hero herself, and not her Shakespearean name, is the greatest block to her making new friends. A modern mystery also is solved-the elderly neighbor and police chief's son, both deserted by the same woman, are grandmother and grandson. Filled with coincidences, the plot still works. The clearly explained Much Ado About Nothing connections encourage young readers to explore Shakespeare. The historical references, provided by Hero's Shakespearean scholar father, reinforce one of the book's major themes: Reaction to an event is more important than the event. Middle school girls will love the suspense and identify with the characters' personal decisions, reflecting Shakespeare's universal themes such as loyalty, the public versus the private self, integrity, true love, and humor's dark side. An author's note and time line clarify the historical context.-Lucy Schall Chronology. 5Q 4P M Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.

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