Reviews for Alchemy and Meggy Swann

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 October

Gr 5-8--Uprooted from the home she shares with her uncaring mother in an English country village, 13-year old Meggy Swann is unceremoniously shipped off to London to live with her father. Upon her arrival, Meggy finds her father to be a cold and distant alchemist. He's disappointed that not only is she a girl, but she is crippled and has to walk with the aid of canes. Meggy, along with her only friend and companion, a white goose named Louise, is left to fend for herself in a city that is dangerous, chaotic, crowded, and dirty. Life is especially challenging for her in London in 1573 bcause people with physical deformities are viewed with suspicion and considered cursed by the devil. As Meggy learns to adapt to her circumstances, she meets new people, makes some friends, and spoils a plot to poison a member of the royal court, saving her father's life in the process. Katherine Kellgren's lively reading of Karen Cushman's novel (Clarion, 2010) is flawless, capturing Meggy's feisty temperament in the period language. Her narration of a wide-range of accents if excellent, and she does a wonderful job singing the ballads that Meggy composes and sings. The sights and sounds of the era and the sense of place and time are vividly depicted as Meggy grows in confidence and independence, using available resources and her wit, courage, and determination to forge a place for herself in her new world.--Mary Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

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