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Oxford Bookworms Library: Stage 2: William Shakespeare: 700 Headwords (Oxford Bookworms ELT) Paperback – 27 Dec 2007

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About the Author

Jennifer Bassett is one of the series editors for Oxford Bookworms. She lives and works in Devonshire, in the south west of England. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 1 review
As a Research Reference 25 Jan 2010
By Tokyo Kurz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Bassett tells the story of Shakespeare's life through the eyes of a fictional boyhood friend, Toby. Toby stays with Shakespeare throughout his whole life and outlives him. Toby is Bassett's device to be able to introduce some personalized elements into what otherwise would be a boring story for most kids. In reality not that much is known about Shakespeare! There are even a whole 14 years of his life that are "lost", where he falls from sight in the historical record.

Though the book is partly fictionalized it still provides good research material for a class unit about Elizabethan England. The backdrop of evolving political change is discussed (Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, is represented as a Puritan, and Shakespeare's plays were presented to two monarchs of England), the many appearances of the Plague and short life spans in general, the danger of fire, the British love of theatrical entertainment, and the ability of a few to become star actors (and rich) are among the many themes touched upon. The book is accessible to readers with a 700 headword count, for example, classes/students whose vocabulary is not so advanced such as non-native English speakers or younger students.

Together with other sources, this book is useful in sparking interest in the era in which Shakespeare lived and wrote.

ASIDE: Bassett sticks mostly to the facts, but the facts are not many! She does not hint at the debate over the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays. To spark this debate, I can suggest including another book, _Shakespeare's Secret_ by Elise Broach, a contemporary fiction story about a stolen diamond that supposedly traces back several hundred years to Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I. The protagonist is named after Hero, the beautiful young daughter of Leonato, in Shakespeare's _Much Ado About Nothing_. The name alone, "Hero" for a girl, causes whispers and a flurry of questions in a group of sixth graders!
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