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- [-] Other Available FormatsOur PriceNew & Used MarketplaceAlchemy and Meggy Swann (Paperback)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)$6.99Alchemy and Meggy Swann (Audio Compact Disc - Unabridged)
Publisher: Listening Library$28.00
- ISBN-13: 9780547231846
- ISBN-10: 0547231849
- Publisher: Clarion Books
- Publish Date: April 2010
- Page Count: 167
- Reading Level: Ages 10-14
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 59.
- Review Date: 2010-03-29
- Reviewer: Staff
Cushman's (Catherine, Called Birdy) newest novel has all the elements that have made her earlier books so beloved. With flawless historical prose, Cushman introduces Meggy Swann, a feisty, sharp-tongued girl just arrived in gritty Elizabethan London, who has had more than her share of hard knocks. Unwanted by both her parents, she describes herself as “the ugglesome crookleg, the four-featured cripple, the fearful, misshapen creature,” dependent on two “sticks” to hobble about. When Meggy is sent to live with her father, he is horrified to have to house and care for her—he wanted a son and an assistant. Meggy is equally unhappy until she tries her hand at her father's work: alchemy. While Cushman's story revolves around the potential magic and disappointing fraud of alchemy (and Meggy's father) as well as a murder plot, at its heart are relationships. Meggy must learn to open up to others to turn her life from loneliness and anger toward friendship and even joy. There is no unequivocally happy ending for Meggy, but a better life awaits her, and readers will gladly accompany her on the journey. Ages 10–14. (Apr.)
A vivid trip to Elizabethan London
Meggy Swann is appalled by the bustle and filth of Elizabethan London when her father, an alchemist who doesn’t set much store by truth or integrity, summons her to the city to work as his apprentice. Meggy has been used to living a secluded life in a country village with only her grandmother and her goose Louise as friends. With her crippled legs, Meggy has endured taunts and threats, but her father’s utter contempt for her surpasses all the difficult experiences of her past.
Guarded, skeptical and tentative, Meggy surprises herself by making several friends in her new London neighborhood. As her father works toward his goal—discovering the secret to transforming ordinary metals into gold and giving humans immortality—she works tirelessly as his apprentice despite her weak legs and walking canes. She considers him a harmless if devoted alchemist until she discovers his dark secret, a secret she is determined to make right in her own unorthodox way.
Newbery winner Karen Cushman shows the realities of day-to-day life through believable and endearing characters whose lives are representative of their time period. In Alchemy and Meggy Swann, Cushman provides virtually no backstory for Meggy and no indications of her future, choosing instead to focus only on her first few weeks in London. Using the language of Elizabethan London, she brings the story vividly to life for young readers and provides a fascinating look at life in the 16th century.