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Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk

by Jane Sutcliffe (Author), John Shelley (Illustrator)


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Will is responsible for such familiar phrases as “what’s done is done” and “too much of a good thing.” He even helped turn “household words” into household words.

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When Jane Sutcliffe sets out to write a book about William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, in her own words, she runs into a problem: Will’s words keep popping up all over the place! What’s an author to do? After all, Will is responsible for such familiar phrases as “what’s done is done” and “too much of a good thing.” He even helped turn “household words” into household words.

But, Jane embraces her dilemma, writing about Shakespeare, his plays, and his famous phrases with glee. After all, what better words are there to use to write about the greatest writer in the English language than his very own? As readers will discover, “the long and the short of it” is this: Will changed the English language forever.

Backmatter includes an author’s note, a bibliography, and a timeline.

Most of my early memories are about books. As a preschooler I begged my mom to read The Little Red Hen so many times that I memorized the words. As soon as I learned to read my dad drove me to the local branch of the Providence, RI, Public Library. The nice librarian lady gave me my first library card. I borrowed my first library book. And somewhere on the ride home I became a lifelong reader.

My favorite stories were historical fiction. I loved Caddie Woodlawn. I read Little Women over and over and cried each time I came to the part where Beth died.

Then I discovered the long, low shelves of biographies. Here were the same exciting stories of people who’d lived long ago, but they were true! When I was ten or eleven, I spent a whole year reading nothing but biographies.

You’d think that a reader of books would want to grow up to be a writer of books. But I never thought of it. The reason was simple: I didn’t know any real writers. Saying I wanted to be a writer was like saying I wanted to be a pirate or a princess—exciting, but not going to happen. So I went to college and did other things. But I never stopped reading. And I never stopped going to the library.

When my two sons were little, I took them to the library, too. I read to them all the time and got to share my love of books with them. Suddenly my new favorite books were children’s books. I was absolutely hooked. When I knew I wanted to try writing my own stories, I remembered all those biographies I’d loved. My first biography, Babe Didrikson Zaharias: All-Around Athlete, was published in 2000. I dedicated it to my sons.

Now I know lots of writers. I go to schools so that students can meet a real writer and see that they can be real writers, too. And I tell them that being a children’s writer is even better than being a pirate or a princess!