Shakespeare's Secret is an example of me picking up a book to read completely because of its cover. Publishers, take note: if you're having a tough time getting a book sold, have Brett Helquist illustrate the cover. It worked on me. Again.
Sixth-grader Hero Netherfield is used to being picked on for her name; it's happened everywhere she's lived. Although her sister, Beatrice, also has a name inspired by Shakespeare, Hero is the one who always has a difficult time fitting in with others. However, despite a daunting first day at her new school, Hero begins to like her new home after befriending her eccentric next-door neighbor, Mrs. Roth, who tells her of a mysterious diamond that may be hidden somewhere in her house. When Hero teams up with Mrs. Roth and Danny, a laid-back eighth grader, she gets completely caught up in the town's biggest mystery.
I thought this book was completely fun from beginning to end! I liked all the ties to Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era and how the book didn't venture too far into melodrama territory (as it certainly could have). Hero was very likable; actually, all the characters, from popular Beatrice to Shakespeare-phile Mr. Netherfield were very likable. The mystery was great and yet it was the little vignettes that I enjoyed the most: cinnamon toast at Mrs. Roth's house, the discussion of Anne Boleyn's seal, the skateboard/bicycle trip into downtown, etc. And I, of course, loved the happily-ever-after end.
I am looking forward to reading Elise Broach's newest release! This book is highly recommended.