Stink #11: Hamlet and Cheese – Megan McDonald

Illustrations – Peter H. Reynolds

It’s spring break and Stink joins Sophie of the Elves at Shakespeare Camp. Webster is in Mexico for spring break and with the promise of learning swordplay and Shakespeare type insults (Maggot pie!), Stink is convinced that being a Shakespeare Sprite will be fun. Except Sophie of the Elves neglects to mention two important points about camp:

  1. Stink will be the only boy at camp 😳
  2. One particular girl, Riley Rottenberger, will also be there. 🤮

While Riley is sometimes a friend and sometimes an enemy, she’s certainly annoying Stink in this book as she spends most of the camp trying to smooch, follow and otherwise harass him. Usually I find Riley an amusing annoyance in Stink stories but in this one there was no amusement, only annoyance.

Call me oversensitive if you like but if this was a book aimed at teens Riley’s behaviour would be in sexual harassment territory so I’m not so sure I liked it being made a joke of in this book. I pondered this while reading and I still enjoyed the book but this behaviour didn’t sit right with me.

I hadn’t realised the impact of the interplay between the three main characters until this book where Webster is absent. While it was still entertaining I did miss the banter between Stink, Webster and Sophie of the Elves. Without Webster there to add his personality to the mix some of the charm of my favourite Stink books, like Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk and Stink and the Shark Sleepover, was missing.

I don’t know how young readers will manage with the thee, thy and thou language along with the rest of the Shakespeare-speak. It’s a good introduction to some of the themes and stories of the Bard but that language can be intimidating when you first come across it.

I would have loved to have known the contents of Riley’s letter, although to be fair I read an ARC sans illustrations and it’s possible the letter’s contents may be shown in one of the illustrations.

I was disappointed I didn’t get to see the illustrations while I was reading but based on having already read most of both the Stink and Judy Moody series I know Peter H. Reynolds will come through in this book too. His illustrations are always spot on in both series, bringing the characters and scenes to life in a humourous way. I will make a point of borrowing this book from my library once it’s released to fill in the pieces that my imagination has missed or gotten wrong.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hie thee to Shakespeare camp with Stink to learn fake sword-fighting, spout silly curses, and prithee try to escape a kiss . . . BLUCK!

It’s spring break, and Stink is faced with a difficult choice: hang out at home with his sister, Judy, or become a Shakespeare Sprite with his friend Sophie of the Elves. Hanged be! When Sophie tells Stink that there will be swordplay and cursing at Shakespeare camp, his choice is made. But wait! How now? The eager young thespian hadn’t counted on Riley Rottenberger being a Sprite, too. And he positively had not counted on being the only boy! Fie upon’t!

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