Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple
 
Broach, Elise.
SHAKESPEARE'S SECRET
New York : Holt, 2005.
IL 5-8, RL 6.1
ISBN  0805073876

(3 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

Oh, hello, you’re new, aren’t you?” the teacher said, smiling. “I’ll introduce you to the rest of the class. Let’s see, your name is…” Mrs. Vanderley studied the attendance roster, pursing her lips. Here we go, thought Hero. “It’s Hero,” she
said, her voice ringing in the quiet classroom. “Hero Netherfield.” “Hero?” said a red-haired girl in the front row. “Hey, that’s my dog’s name.” A split second later the classroom erupted in laughter. Two boys in the back began whistling and slapping their jeans, calling, ”Here, Hero, here, girl!” Someone else yelled, “Watch out, she’s not housebroken!” Hero hurried across the room and slid into the empty seat, her heart filled with despair. There was no way the dog joke would end here. It was exactly the kind of mindless label that stuck to a person like glue. In this class, in this school, she would always be the girl named after a dog.

Hero hates the name her parents gave her—right out of a Shakespeare play---and she hates having to start in at another new school. But her life looks up when an elderly neighbor enlists her aid in solving the mystery of the disappeared “Murphy Diamond”. It’s valued at nearly 1 million dollars, and rumor has it that the thief hid it somewhere in Hero’s house! And another thing---the coolest boy in the eighth-grade seems awfully interested in helping Hero solve the mystery---why? And will this help her chances of fitting in with the other sixth-graders at Ogden Elementary, or hurt them?  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face 2007)

Booktalk #2

When Hero starts sixth grade at a new school, she's less concerned about the literary origins of her Shakespearean name than about the teasing she's sure to suffer because of it. So she has the same name as a girl in a book by a dusty old author. Hero is simply not interested in the connections. But that's just the thing; suddenly connections are cropping up all over, and odd characters and uncertain pasts are exactly what do fascinate Hero. There's a mysterious diamond hidden in her new house, a curious woman next door who seems to know an awful lot about it, and then, well, then there's Shakespeare. Not to mention Danny Cordova, only the most popular boy in school. Is it all in keeping with her namesake's origin-just much ado about nothing? Hero, being Hero, is determined to figure it out.  (Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award 2008)

Booktalk #3

Did you ever hear the secret about Shakespeare, the famous literary playwright from the 16th century? I didn't, until I read this story. The main character is Hero, and she doesn't know the secret of Shakespeare either in spite of her father being a Shakespeare scholar. But Hero does know what moving the family repeatedly is like, due to her father's work as a professor. Of course, moving always proves to be difficult each time for Hero; she has to get adjusted to new friends and a new school, and never looks forward to these events. And her name, Hero, always proves to be a bit of a problem, the name her parents gave her from one of Shakespeare's characters in the play, Much Ado About Nothing.

Hero, expecting her new school experience to be as bad as those of her old ones, is curiously surprised when she learns from her eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Roth, that a multimillion dollar diamond may be hidden in her parent's house.  Hero, intrigued with the idea, and intent on putting her mind on something else besides school, sets out on her own investigation, only to be joined by the most popular boy in the eighth grade, Danny Cordova.  Maybe, Hero and Danny together could prove that the diamond is indeed connected to Shakespeare, and somehow reveal his true identity. Wouldn't her father be surprised? Is it true that Shakespeare was a simple business merchant of his time or Queen Elizabeth the First's favorite royal at court?

Hero wonders why Mrs. Roth and Danny are so interested in finding the diamond. Could she, the usually, unpopular sixth-grade Hero, uncover a mystery that was worth more than much ado about nothing? Follow Hero and Danny as they learn of an even bigger mystery than the one they intended; one that words could never describe.  (Lisa Murno, murnol@guilford.k12.ct.us, librarian)

SUBJECTS:     Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Authorship --  Fiction.
                        Great Britain -- History -- Henry VIII, 1509-1547 -- Fiction.
                        Great Britain -- History -- Elizabeth, 1558-1603 -- Fiction.
                        Neighbors -- Fiction.
                        Maryland -- Fiction.
                        Mystery and detective stories
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