Shakespeare's Secret

by Elise Broach

Hardcover, 2005



Local notes

F Bro






Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (2005), Edition: First Edition, 256 pages


Named after a character in a Shakespeare play, misfit sixth-grader Hero becomes interested in exploring this unusual connection because of a valuable diamond supposedly hidden in her new house, an intriguing neighbor, and the unexpected attention of the most popular boy in school.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

256 p.; 5.19 inches

Media reviews

Janis Flint-Ferguson (KLIATT Review, January 2008 (Vol. 42, No. 1))
To quote a review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2005: Hero Netherfield is entering the sixth grade in a new town . Hero just wishes she didn’t have to start the whole process of learning to fit in again, especially with a name
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like Hero. Hero meets the older woman who lives next door, Miriam Roth, who shares the story of a missing diamond and a missing daughter with Hero. Quite accidentally, Hero becomes friends with the police chief’s son. Together they look at clues. The clues lead them to the lights in Hero’s home. The diamond is found, and so is the lost daughter of their friend, Mrs. Roth. The mystery is well developed, with historical details about William Shakespeare, Edward de Vere and Queen Elizabeth I. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2005, Holtzbrinck, Square Fish, 258p., $5.99. Ages 12 to 15.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member JenJ.
Hero's family has moved. Again. That means another new school where older sister Beatrice will fit right in while Hero will be, at best, ignored. It's bad enough that Hero has a funny name, thanks to her parents' interest in Shakespeare, but Hero doesn't have the personality to quickly make friends
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either. Things are different in this town though - Hero makes friends with her elderly next door neighbor (good), gets teased for having a dog's name (bad), catches the attention of the cutest boy in school (excellent, but scary too), and finds out that a diamond with mysterious connections to Shakespeare may be hidden in HER house (awesome!). Secret clues, close escapes, and the possibility of betrayal, mean that whether Hero can solve the mystery of the diamond or not, this won't be any ordinary school year.

Filled with fun historical details, Shakespeare's Secret could easily be tied into school units on Shakespeare or English History. The clues are all laid out for readers to find - not just to where the diamond is located, but also to the relationships revealed at the end of the novel. Broach includes a timeline and historical note explaining which details in the novel are accurate since some came from her imagination. My 3rd-5th graders loved this, although some struggled to read it in the month's time.

January 2009 Cover 2 Cover selection.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
Hero dreads starting at a new school again. She's never been popular like her sister Beatrice and she knows that the first day will be the worst. This first day is the worst she's ever had. When introduced to her new class, a girl in the class blurts out that her dog's name is Hero. Henceforth,
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Hero is known as the girl named after a dog. With no friends at school, Hero begins spending time with her neighbor Mrs. Roth who is telling her about the mystery of the large diamond that is suspected to be hidden in the house that Hero's family moved into. Hero just knows that the diamond is still in the house and she begins to look for it. Mrs. Roth has some clues that point to the diamond once belonging to Anne Boelyn and the two begin to piece together the history behind the diamond and its possible connection to Shakespeare.

I don't normally like mysteries, but I found this one very intriguing. There are clues that Hero and Mrs. Roth find out that lead to the solution to the mystery. There are also interesting facts about Anne Boelyn and the theory that another man might actually be the author of Shakespeare's plays. The author includes a length note about these facts that explains what was fictional and what was true.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
Hero and her sister, Beatrice, are named after characters in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. When Hero meets Mrs. Roth, her next door neighbor, she learns about a missing diamond that may be hidden somewhere in her new house. So many of the people and the events in the story are intertwined.
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Hero, Danny, and Mrs. Roth work together to uncover the history of the missing jewel and some possible clues to the identity of the "real" Shakespeare.
I really enjoyed this page turner and liked that the themes of the Shakespeare plays were carried out in the modern-day narrative as well.
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LibraryThing member drebbles
Named after a character in William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”, Hero has been teased about her name her whole life and expects more of the same when she starts sixth grade at a new school in a new city. She does indeed get teased, but things aren’t quite as bad as she expected as
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she starts to make friends both young and old. Not only that but she finds herself in the middle of a mystery – there may be a diamond hidden somewhere in her house – a diamond that may hold the key to Shakespeare’s true identity.

“Shakespeare’s Secret” is a novel for children ages 9 – 12 that works well on several levels. Author Elise Broach has created a great lead character in Hero Netherfield – a sixth grader who is very unsure of herself and feels that she lives in the shadow of her older sister Beatrice. Hero is a very real, if flawed, character, as she is sometimes her own worst enemy. Broach doesn’t sugar coat anything – the bullying Hero faces is very real and her friend Danny does some questionable acts. While the main mystery does involve the missing diamond (and it is fun to read as Hero and Danny search for the diamond), there is a secondary mystery involving Danny which is interesting, if a little bit too conveniently wrapped up. Mixed in with all of this are little lessons about Shakespeare and history that are so nicely woven into the story that young readers may not even realize they are learning something along the way.

“Shakespeare’s Secret” is not only a good mystery, but a good novel about a young girl who not only learns about Shakespeare, but how to deal with bullying, and what friendship is all about. Well done.
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LibraryThing member eduscapes
I always enjoy mysteries based in historical fact or speculation. This book was particularly appealing because it provides a great incentive to young people to dive into the works of Shakespeare. Like the books by Blue Balliet (Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 2), the book engages young people in a
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local mystery. Unfortunately, the books don't have the depth of Balliet's characters or plot. On the other hand, Shakespeare's Secret could be suggestion for Balliet fans.
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LibraryThing member MSLMC
On the first day of Sixth grade, in a new to town, Hero is teased about her name being the same as a classmate's dog, so instead of trying to make friends with kids at school, she strikes up a friendship with her elderly neighbor and is quickly embroiled in a mystery to find a million dollar
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diamond. The characters are well developed and the mystery is just complex enough to draw the reader in. My favorite part is how Broach connects the local mystery to a real life historical mystery. This might entice young readers to do some additional reading into the Shakespeare/de Vere debate.
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LibraryThing member readingrat
A wonderful children's fictional mystery story based on historical facts - along the same lines as Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer.
LibraryThing member yamatos
While Hero juggles the pressure of being the new kid.She finds her and the most popular kid in school, Danny, in the middle of a big mystery involving Hero's house.
LibraryThing member ASBiskey
Comparisons have been made between this book and the adventures of Petra and Calder in the books by Blue Balliett. Having enjoyed those books, I was looking forward to reading Shakespear's Secret.

Hero, the protagonist of the story, is beginning sixth grade. Elise Broach has written a believable
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character that reflects many of the atitudes that I see in my own sixth grade daughter and her friends. The story written around her, however, seems more appropriate for a character a couple years older.

The story seems to come together without any significant sense of peril, and all the pieces fit almost too well. The hopeful but trite ending seems to simple, requiring little from the reader.

I will encourage my 12 and 9 year old daughters to read this. It was an enjoyable book. I just felt it failed to live up to the potential in the story.
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LibraryThing member mdtwilighter
A good book about the mystery behind Shakespeare's true identity. It reminded me of Chasing Vermeer.
LibraryThing member cbaybooks
excellent book -- on of the best kid mysteries around
LibraryThing member cornpuff12
Hero moves into a new house in a new town. She soon finds out that her house has an unsolved mystery connected to it. She solves it with the help of a neighbor that she stumbles upon the day before school starts.
LibraryThing member mbjuvholds
I'd have liked this book a lot more if it weren't promoting the theory that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, is the true author of William Shakespeare's plays. As a staunch Stratfordian, I just found it hard not to cringe whenever the Oxfordian theory was brought up! Still, it's a great mystery
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story and I do appreciate the fact that it incorporates Shakespeare's works and Elizabethan history into the plot.
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LibraryThing member cpotter
Hero, a sixth is named after a character in a Shakespearean play. She is uninterested in the dusty old author and her name connection until she is told that a million-dollar diamond is hidden in her new house. There seems to be a connection between Shakespeare and the diamond. Not to mention Danny
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Cordova, the most popular boy at school is interested in helping Hero solve the mystery and uncover the diamond.
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LibraryThing member ImBookingIt
Shakespeare's Secret is a fun read. In my opinion, that's the most important thing for a kids book.The characters are interesting. I identified with Hero, the 6th grade girl who never quite fits in anywhere. I suspect most preteen girls will understand that feeling as well. I never had as cool of
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an adventure, as she does, though!Hero and her older sister Beatrice move into a house with a mystery. Hero finds out about the diamond rumored to be hidden somewhere in it from the elderly next door neighbor, and sets out to find it. She runs into Danny, a very cool 8th grader, at her neighbor's house and he joins in the hunt.Along the way, Hero learns about the necklace the rumored diamond comes from, which leads to some historical research and discovery. I think that the nuggets of information about Anne Boleyn, Edward de Vere, and about Shakespeare in general will whet the appetite of readers, so when they run into more in depth discussions elsewhere they will be more likely to pay attention.The other thread of the storyline has to do with Hero starting at a new school, and (once again) being teased due to her name. Beatrice (as usual) has a much easier time. There is some interesting insight into what is needed to fit in, and further, to be popular, and the tradeoffs involved.I think this book will appeal to girls and some boys from ages 10-12 or so.
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LibraryThing member kthomp25
Hero and her older, pretty sister, Beatrice are named for characters in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Teased about her name, she has a hard time fitting in all the new schools her Dad's job, a Shakespeare expert, takes her to.

In her newest home, she makes friend with a single, older lady
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next door, Mrs. Roth, who sparks her interest about Shakespeare when she shares with her the story of the people who lived in her house before she did. The woman was a descendant of Edward de Vere, who some scholars think is the real Shakespeare.

Along the way, another mystery unfolds involving a popular boy at school who turns out to be a friend of Mrs. Roth's and who gets involved with Hero in a search for a diamond rumored to be hidden in her house.
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LibraryThing member johnlobe
Shakespeare's Secret is a well told mystery that intertwines historical details related to Shakespeare with interesting characters. Broach brings these elements together successfully. A window into Elizabethan England is given which helps move the plot forward in a natural way. A historical
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timeline of relevant events is a fun inclusion.
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LibraryThing member mrsarey
This is a great mystery involving a girl named Hero and her attempt to find a diamond hidden somewhere in her house. Along the way, Hero discovers that she is more than a nothing- she is worthy of her name.
LibraryThing member RefPenny
Hero has changed school again and, once again she is having trouble fitting in and making friends. When she meets her neighbour, Mrs Roth, she discovers that there may be a valuable diamond hidden in their new house. She soon gets caught up in unravelling the mystery of the diamond and finds that
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she has a new friend - popular Danny Cordova - keen to help her.
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LibraryThing member AwesomeHannah
Hero is the new girl in town and she has never had much luck with school, especially with new schools. Hero's parents are big shakespeare fans, and her older sister has always had luck with making new friends at her schools. When Hero meets her new neighbor, her neighbor tells her about the people
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who used to live in Hero's new house and how they hid a diamond somewhere in the house and no one ever found it. So Hero and her new friend go on a search and research everything they can about the hidden diamond. When they give up hope for finding the diamond they finally look in a place that no one would have ever thought to look and they found the diamond. When they find the diamond though, Hero's friend sends the diamond to his mother, who needs money, but when he sends the diamond to his mother she sends it back. So when Hero get the diamond back she hinds it in a book of Shakespeare, just like the home owners before them had wanted it. They had wanted the diamond to be hidden so one day they could come back and get it.
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LibraryThing member DawnFechter
Grades 5-7 Middle School. Moving to a new town Hero and her older sister must again start a new school and make new friends. Hero and Beatrice who are named for the Characters in Shakespeare’s play Much Ado about Nothing. Hero must face a new school and deal with the jokes about her name. Hero
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does not make friends easily and her name does not help. Hero does befriend a neighbor Mrs. Roth who tells her about the Murphy diamond which may be hidden in her house! Hero is befriended by Danny who is also curious if the diamond is in Hero’s house. Hero and Mrs. Roth discover a connection between Anne Boleyn and Shakespeare and the diamond. The diamond may prove Edward de Vere was the son of Queen Elizabeth and the true Shakespeare. Is the diamond hidden in Hero’s house? Will she find it? Will Hero find a way to make friends?? What will she do with the diamond?
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LibraryThing member Golijanin
Hero Nertherfield moves with her parents and older sister from New York to Maryland due to her father’s new job. She is scared of thinking that after a weekend is gone she will start grade six in new school. Her sister Beatrice is the total opposite of her, always being a popular girl and making
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new friends easily.
After returning from the first day at school where she was teased for her unusual name, Hero meets her neighbor, an older lady called Miriam Roth. Hero enjoys her conversation with Mrs. Roth who has a calm voice. She is intrigued with the story of a hidden diamond. While solving crosswords at Miriam’s porch, Hero hears about the large diamond being somewhere in her house or yard. The diamond was a pendant of an antique necklace that belonged to the previous house owners, the Murphys, who left the necklace to Mrs. Roth after Mrs. Murphy died. Having some clues, Hero decides to search for the large yellow diamond that costs a fortune. Mrs. Roth, Danny Cordova, Danny: a boy who goes to the same school as Hero, and her sister Beatrice, help her in this quest. Danny’s dad is a chief of police who investigated the case and never doubted that the Murphys faked a break-in for stealing the diamond. The circumstances involving Hero’s father’s studies and his life’s written work on Shakespeare, helps her to solve the puzzles of the necklace’s history.
The journey of getting the diamond to the right place brings Hero’s family together creating valuable friendship, which were more worth then the price of the necklace.
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LibraryThing member mckenziegregg
In this book Hero moves in to a new house which has a legend tied to it. Her house is the Murphy Dimond House. The legend is, is that the people who lived in the house before Hero did had great ancestors that passed down a necklace that is now almost a 500 year old necklace but one day said that a
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robber broke in and stole a dimond off the necklace and not the whole thing. Anyways, the dimond is worth around one million dollars and Hero's neighbor, Ms. Roth, tell Hero this and tells Hero that she thinks that the Dimond is still in the house somewhere. her serches go everywhere but Hero doesn't let her parents know. she meets a boy named Danny and Danny helps hero find the dimond. Hero finds the dimond thanks to a clue left behind by Arthur, the previous owner, in her porch light with Danny. But, Danny, beng silly, takes the dimond and sends it to his mom and also finds out that Ms. Roth is his grandmother.

This book was so boring in the beginning and in the middle. I was about to close it but I decided to finish it and I am so glad I did. In the end there were two huge Climax's that shocked me so badly. You will keep flipping through the pages and wont stop. even though it is boring in the beginning don't put that book down. It is the best read you will ever read.
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LibraryThing member Janee23
I thoroughly enjoyed Elise Broach 's novel Shakespeare's Secret.! From the historical figures, true event that took, and fictional story line; it was a great read. Hero is a young girl who is not your typical sixth grader, just like her unusual name. But, but behind that name is characteristics she
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lives up to just like in Shakespeare's noted work. Hero finds herself in the mist of mysterious scandal,that has her puzzled and interested. She begins to find herself wanting to know more about Shakespeare and his past, because it is the link to solving the mystery. Elise Broach has done an excellent job with staying true to realistic events and educating young minds on Shakespeare. She has found a way to reach them beyond a classroom setting. Maybe she has given young minds more than the average textbook could.
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LibraryThing member rgruberexcel
RGG: A fun mystery with some references to the authorship of Shakespeare's plays




½ (249 ratings; 3.9)
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