Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William Shakespeare

Wicked Will: A Mystery of Young William Shakespeare

Bailey MacDonald
Historical Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2010   ISBN: 978-1416986614

A group of travelling players has arrived in Stratford, and at first nothing unusual happens. Tom Pryne fully expects that this little town will be much like every other that they have been to. He meets a local boy who is called Will Shakespeare, and at first Tom things that Will is a “thickskull, an ignorant fool.” The boy never stops asking questions, prattling along incessantly.

Then a local farmer is killed, and Tom’s uncle, Matthew Bailey, the leader of their little band of players, is arrested because his walking stick was used to commit the murder. Tom knows that Uncle Matthew is far too jovial and kind to do something so terrible, and he is terrified that the good man could be found guilty of the crime. Will, who is always looking for ways to spice up his life, decides that he and Tom should find the real killer. The dead man was not a pleasant person, and he made many enemies. He even antagonized his two sons by putting them in his will, and then removing them from it over and over again. Surely, it won’t be too hard to find the real murderer.

In this wonderful mystery, which stars a young and mischievous William Shakespeare, Bailey MacDonald gives readers a picture of what life was like in England when Shakespeare was a boy. Readers who are familiar with Will Shakespeare’s works, will catch glimpses of his genius in the boy who discovers that there are times when adventures are dangerous and upsetting.

Written using some of the vernacular of the times, this is a novel that will interest young readers who enjoy taking bookish trips into the past.