Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach

“A missing diamond. A 500-year-old necklace. A mystery dating back to the time of William Shakespeare.” — Elise Broach’s site

Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach (Henry Holt, 2005). Hero knows her unusual name comes from a character in the Shakespeare play “Much Ado About Nothing,” but that’s no consolation on the first day of sixth grade at her new school. All the kids make fun, and she’s sure this year will be as empty as all the rest. But then Hero meets an elderly neighbor who tells her about a missing diamond, and much to her surprise, Hero finds herself becoming friends with one of the cutest, most popular boys in school. Ages 10-up.

Cynsational Thoughts

I’m not a teacher, but the first thing I thought upon finishing this debut novel was how much I’d love to share it with a classroom group.

The writing itself has a sort of old-fashioned cadence, which isn’t my usual preference, but I found myself settling in, enjoying the mix of contemporary setting and nostalgic tone. It fits a story of today that draws so much from the past.

A few days ago, I was blogging about how Comfort by Carolee Dean (Houghton Mifflin, 2002) would inspire an interest in poetry. Likewise, Shakespeare’s Secret will inspire an interest in history and the Bard’s plays.

I could say more, but then I’d deprive you of discovering the secret(s) for yourself–along with Hero and friends of course.

As I mentioned, this is Elise’s debut novel, but she is also the author of three–count ’em, three!–picture books to be released this year: Hiding Hoover, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith (Dial, July 2005); Wet Dog, illustrated by David Catrow (Dial, May 2005); and What The No-Good Baby Is For, illustrated by Abby Carter (G.P. Putnam’s, May 2005).

In addition, Elise has two more picture books and a YA novel under contract.


What else? As I’ve mentioned before, her Web site is super cute, too! Learn more about Elise (she can tell the color of an M&M by its taste!), and read her Q&A. Then read about what she’s reading and her thoughts on writing! (Only apparent flaw: prefers dogs to cats. Eek!).

Note: my fave version of “Much Ado About Nothing” is the 1993 film directed by Kenneth Branagh. Bonus points for Denzel and Keanu.

Cynsational Links

Joy Fisher Hein: new official site from the illustrator of Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers by Kathi Appelt (Harper, 2005). Surf by to see sample art from that debut picture book, and if you haven’t read it already, check out my Story Behind The Story interview with Joy and Kathi.

Author Anastasia Suen offers a 2005 Workshop Schedule page and a new five-day workshop, School Visits 101. Learn more about her intensive online writing workshops. Anastasia is the author of more than 60 children’s books and Picture Writing (Writer’s Digest, 2003), a book about writing for for young readers. My favorite book by Anastasia is Subway, illustrated by Karen Katz (Viking, 2004).