June Dive | Splash into Suspense by Gary Blackwood – ‘Curiosity’ or ‘The Shakespeare Stealer’

Summer sneaks up on Deep Blue Readers with two suspense-filled titles by Gary Blackwood – Curiosity and The Shakespeare Stealer. Check out the summaries and exploration links below, then choose the book that most pulls you under its spell! Or let both capture your imagination as days (and late nights) of summer reading take over.

Deep Blue Readers will meet at 1:30pm, Sunday 6/28 at Valley Bookseller in downtown Stillwater. Bring a hat and sunscreen in case the weather is nice enough to enjoy the patio!


Philadelphia, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufus’s job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. – Penguin Random House

Vivid settings, deception, threats, a hidden workshop, and appearances by true-life showman P.T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe, master of the macabre, will have you turning pages quickly!

  • School Library Journal details the gripping plot, giving Curiosity rave reviews
  • Kirkus calls Curiosity, “A thrilling look at the 19th-century age of automata”
  • Publisher’s Weekly says Curiosity’s “layered narrative should appeal to history buffs, gadget lovers, and fans of The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  • The Turk, a chess-playing marvel that duped celebrated personalities on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1800s, was real… or was it? BBC News and Wired.com both tell the story of this mechanical wonder
  • Get on board! Sharpen your chess skills at Stillwater Public Library. Summer Chess Club for ages 10 – 17 meets monthly 1:00 – 2:00pm on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays
  • Who was P.T. Barnum? Step right up! This way to the Egress!
  • Journey to Richmond, VA in Curiosity, where you also will find the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, tribute to an author whom some still call an “anomaly” among American authors


Steal Shakespeare’s play Hamlet… or else. That’s the order from his fearsome master. And Widge — a poor orphan with the rare ability to write a unique coded shorthand — has no choice but to follow orders. So Widge works his way into the Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare’s troupe rehearses and performs. The players take him in and treat him as one of their own. Afraid to disappoint his master, but unwilling to betray his new friends, Widge is torn. Will he secretly copy down the lines? Until he decides, he must play the part of his life. – Scholastic

Travel back in time to Elizabethan England where you’ll sneak backstage at the Globe Theater in the first installment of Gary Blackwood’s Shakespeare Stealer Trilogy. This book represents his Middle Grades author debut, winning accolades as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, ALA Notable Children’s Book and ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Continue the trilogy with Shakespeare’s Scribe and Shakespeare’s Spy.