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Detail from the Puffin Modern Classics cover of Cue for Treason by Geoffrey Trease

Q: What book mattered the most to you as a child?

A: Cue for Treason, by Geoffrey Trease, radicalized my young girl brain and made me want to be a gender-bending, sonnet-writing anarchist. It really made something roar to life inside of me. It's set in Elizabethan England. This 11-year-old kid, Peter, is running from the law after throwing a rock at Sir Philip Morton. Peter ends up hiding in a coffin, which turns out to be a prop for a theatre troupe and the troupe hires him to be an actor. There he meets another boy, Kit, who turns out to be a girl pretending to be a boy to avoid being married off. Peter and Kit are then introduced to William Shakespeare who hires them for his company and then somehow these two 11-year-olds discover that another guy, The Yellow Gentleman, has stolen Shakespeare's latest play and is using its text as a code to plot the murder of the queen! At the end we discover Peter marries Kit and they have kids. But I'd always stop reading before I got to that part.

Miriam Toews is author of A Complicated Kindness and Irma Voth

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