Alchemy and Meggy Swann (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

( 3 )

Overview

Fans of Karen Cushman's witty, satisfying novels will welcome Meggy Swann, newly come to London with her only friend, a goose named Louise. Meggy's mother was glad to be rid of her; her father, who sent for her, doesn't want her after all. Meggy is appalled by London,dirty and noisy, full of rogues and thieves, and difficult to get around in?not that getting around is ever easy for someone who walks with the help of two sticks.Just as her alchemist father pursues his Great Work of transforming base ...

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Alchemy and Meggy Swann

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Overview

Fans of Karen Cushman's witty, satisfying novels will welcome Meggy Swann, newly come to London with her only friend, a goose named Louise. Meggy's mother was glad to be rid of her; her father, who sent for her, doesn't want her after all. Meggy is appalled by London,dirty and noisy, full of rogues and thieves, and difficult to get around in—not that getting around is ever easy for someone who walks with the help of two sticks.Just as her alchemist father pursues his Great Work of transforming base metal into gold, Meggy finds herself pursuing her own transformation. Earthy and colorful, Elizabethan London has its dark side, but it also has gifts in store for Meggy Swann.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Queen Elizabeth I is on the throne. London is a sprawling, chaotic city that teems with all manner of humanity. Meggy has come to London ostensibly to serve her alchemist father, a man she has never met. When he rejects her because she is not male and because she is unable to walk normally, she needs all her pluck and determination to rise above her plight. Her loneliness and hunger are assuaged by Roger, an apprentice actor, and his troop of players, as well as a printer and a cooper who become her friends. She works tirelessly to gain her father's respect, but she finds her own self-respect instead. Meggy is a heroine in mind and deed. Cushman has the uncanny ability to take a time and place so remote and make it live. Readers can hear and see and smell it all as if they are right beside Meggy. She employs the syntax and vocabulary of the period so easily that it is understood as if it's the most contemporary modern slang. A gem. (author's note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Meggy leaves her mother and the village in which she has been raised and goes to London when her father, an alchemist, summons her. Having never met her, he was unaware of her condition. "Her legs did not sit right in her hips—she had been born so . . .," and she uses walking sticks that her loving gran found in the woods for her. But her gran is now dead. Her mother does not want her around and her father sees her only as a burden for which he has no time. Just as Meggy will get to know the sights, sounds and smells of London of 1573, so will the reader. There is a map in the front of the book to acquaint the reader with the area in which Meggy lives. She attempts to prove herself useful to her father despite the pain of walking. She befriends a young actor, a printer, and the neighboring cooper and his son. When Meggy overhears a plot to kill Baron Eastmoreland, she schemes to find a way to save him without implicating her father. Transformations occur repeatedly throughout this story, primarily those that occur within Meggy. Among the others are her effect on the people she meets, the modernization of the city of London, and its political changes. In addition, Master Ambrose seemingly only has time for his alchemy. Cushman's phrasing and choice of words gives a nod to sixteenth-century English and might cause some readers a little difficulty. Most will quickly be caught up in Meggy's plight and will even delight in the banter. How can anyone resist a story that begins, "Ye toads and vipers." Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606234054
  • Publisher: Sanval, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois and lives now on Vashon Island west of Seattle, Washington. She received an M.A. in human behavior and one in museum studies. Ms. Cushman has had a lifelong interest in history. She says, "I grew tired of hearing about kings, princes, generals, presidents. I wanted to know what ordinary life was like for ordinary young people in other times." Research into medieval English history and culture led to the writing of her first two novels, the Newbery Honor book CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY and the Newbery Medal-winner THE MIDWIFE'S APPRENTICE. She is also the author of MATILDA BONE, THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, RODZINA, and most recently ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN..

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Meggy Swann

    I really enjoyed this book! Can't wait to read more of her books!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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