Together with Ian Schoenherr's breathtaking illustrations, this is a truly stunning package from cover to cover. Contains a teaser chapter of the sequel, The Apprentices.
About the Author
Hometown:Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth:1972
Place of Birth:Helena, Montana
Education:M.F.A. in Fiction, University of California, Irvine, 2000
Read an Excerpt
It’s safe to say I was not graceful about the move to London. I was no witty, patient, adaptable Jane Austen. And if I was anything like Katharine Hepburn, it was in the scenes where she’s being a giant pest. I cried in the taxi all the way to the airport, past the churning oil rigs on La Cienega. I cried on the first airplane I’d ever been on, which should have been exciting, and was exciting—all those tiny buildings below—but I wasn’t going to give my parents the satisfaction of knowing that I was enjoying it.
At Heathrow Airport in London, there was a framed picture of the brand-new Queen Elizabeth II on the wall.
“She’s not that much older than you are,” my mother said.
“And she’s been through a war, and her father’s dead, and
now she has to be queen, poor thing.”
“See?” my father said. “Your life could be worse.”
I looked at the picture of the young queen. We had escaped ahead of the U.S. marshals, locking up the house and packing only the things we could carry. My parents were going to be writing for the BBC under fake names—fake names, when my mother wouldn’t even put yellow food coloring in margarine! We were living like criminals or spies. Although I was angry, standing there looking at the plucky young queen’s portrait, I allowed myself to think that my mother was right, and it might be an adventure.
But February in London crushed those hopes. We took a taxi through streets that were still bomb-scarred and desolate, seven years after the war’s end, to a tiny third-floor flat on St. George’s Street in Primrose Hill. Across the street was a haberdasher—my father said he was like a tailor—standing outside his shop with his hands behind his back and a look on his face as if no one would ever come in.
Our new landlady, Mrs. Parrish, took off her apron and patted a wild cloud of hair to show us around. She said the gas water heater over the kitchen sink was broken, and we would have to heat pots of water on the stove. The kitchen was along one side of the living room, no bigger than a closet, and could be closed away just like a closet. The rooms were freezing and the walls seemed damp. The brown wallpaper was water-stained near the ceiling.
We must have looked dismayed, because the distracted Mrs. Parrish suddenly focused on us. She was not going to let some spoiled Americans fail to appreciate their good fortune.
“You’re lucky to get the place, you know,” she said.
“Of course,” my mother said quickly. “We’re very grateful.” “People are queuing up for a flat like this, with its own
lavatory, and separate bedrooms, and a working telephone line. But the BBC asked to hold it, specially.” It was clear that we did not deserve such a bounty, when her countrymen, who had lost so much, were still going without private bathrooms.
“We’re very grateful,” my mother repeated.
“Do you have your ration cards for the marketing?”
“Not yet,” my mother said.
“You’ll need those,” the landlady said. “And you’ll find that
the butcher sells out first thing in the morning, ration cards or no.” She lowered her voice. “I can sell you some eggs, if you like. They’re hard to get, but I know someone with hens.”
“That would be very nice.”
Mrs. Parrish showed us where to put penny coins into the gas heater in the wall, to make it work. We didn’t have any English pennies, but said we would get some.
“Mark you,” she said, brushing dust from the heater off her hands, “it doesn’t do much. Apart from eat up pennies. You’ll want your hot water bottles for the beds.”
“We don’t have hot water bottles,” my mother said.
“Try the apothecary,” the landlady said. “Around the corner, on Regent’s Park. He’ll have pennies, too.”
And she left us alone.
My mother started investigating the closet kitchen, and my father and I put on every warm thing we had, which wasn’t much, to go find the apothecary, which my father said was like a pharmacy. The sky over St. George’s Street was gray, and the buildings were gray, and people wore gray. It sounds like a cliché, but it was true. Going from Los Angeles to London in 1952 was like leaving a Technicolor movie and walking into a black-and-white one.
Around the corner on Regent’s Park Road, just as the landlady said, we came to a storefront with two bay windows full of glass bottles. A painted sign over one window said APOTHECARY, and one over the other window said ESTABLISHED 1871. My father pushed the paned glass door open and held it for me. The shop had a strange smell, musty and herbal and metallic all at once. Behind the counter was a wall of jars. A balding man on a wheeled ladder, halfway up the wall, pulled a jar down. He seemed not to have noticed us, but then he spoke. “I’ll just be a moment,” he said.
He carefully climbed down the ladder with the jar in one hand, set it on the counter, and looked up at us, ready for our needs. He had wire-rimmed glasses and the air of someone who didn’t rush things, who paid close attention to each particular task before moving on to the next.
“We’re looking for three hot water bottles,” my father told
“And how about some chocolate bars?” The apothecary shook his head.
“We have them sometimes. Not often, since the war.”
“Since the war?” my father said, and I could see him calculating: twelve years without a steady supply of chocolate. He looked a little faint. I wondered if he could get a prescription for chocolate from a doctor. Then I could have some, too.
“Come back again,” the apothecary said, seeing his dismay. “We may have some soon.”
“Okay,” my father said. “We’d better get some aspirin, too.” I could tell he was embarrassed by his undisguised need for candy, and he always made jokes when he was embarrassed. I could feel one coming. “And how about something for my daughter, to cure homesickness?”
“Dad,” I said. The apothecary looked at me.
“You’re American?” I nodded.
“And you’ve moved here to a cold flat with cold bedrooms that need hot water bottles?”
I nodded again, and the apothecary guided the ladder along the back wall on its metal wheels.
“I was joking,” my father said.
“But you are homesick?” the apothecary asked, over his shoulder.
“Well—yes,” I said.
He climbed the ladder and chose two jars, tucking one beneath his arm to climb down. At the counter, he unscrewed the lids and measured two different powders, one yellow and one brown, into a small glass jar. “The brown is aspen, the yellow is honeysuckle,” he said. To my father, he said, “Neither will hurt her.” To me, he said, “Put about a dram of each—do you know how much a dram is? About a teaspoon of each in a glass of water. It won’t take effect right away, but it might make you feel better. And it might not. People have different constitutions.”
“We really don’t—” my father said.
“It’s free of charge,” the apothecary said. “It’s for the young lady.” Then he rang up the hot water bottles and the bottle of aspirin.
“Thank you,” I said.
“You’ll want some pennies, too, for the wall heater,” he said, handing me our change in a fistful of big brown coins that clinked, rather than jingled, into my hand.
Excerpted from "The Apothecary"
Copyright © 2013 Maile Meloy.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Maile Meloy’s THE APOTHECARY:
A New York Times Bestseller
E.B. White Read-Aloud Book Award Winner
2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
2011 Wall Street Journal Best of the Year
2011 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Reading List
“Inventive, smart and fun, an absolute delight.”
—REBECCA STEAD, Newbery Award-winning author of WHEN YOU REACH ME
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW:
“[Meloy] brings to her first book for young readers the same emotional resonance that has won acclaim for her adult fiction, grounding her story in the intricacies of family love, friendship and loyalty blended here with the complicated fluctuations of adolescence.”
FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:
“Maile Meloy’s sly commingling of the real and the imaginary make this a witty and entertaining Cold War romp—with a touch of age-appropriate romance.”
FROM USA TODAY:
“The title of Maile Meloy’s smartly written, page-turning adventure/fantasy refers to a magical druggist in London in 1952. . . . It’s for curious readers who, like Meloy’s characters, can make room in their imaginations and ‘allow for the possibilities.’”
STARRED REVIEW FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:
“[A] thoroughly enjoyable adventure, filled with magic, humor, memorable characters, and just a bit of sweet romance. With evocative, confident prose and equally atmospheric spot art from Schoenherr, adult author Meloy’s first book for young readers is an auspicious one.”
“Those who know little about blacklisting, the Cold War, and European life after WWII will just have to dive into the fantasy-adventure pool, which runs long and deep. Magic elixirs, transformational disguises, and everyday cunning help Janie, Benjamin, and several scientists elude capture.”
FROM KIRKUS REVIEWS:
“[I]ts blend of history, culture and the anxiety of the time with magical “science” will keep readers just as spellbound as the characters.”
“[G]ood, strong historical fiction spiced with intrigue, magical realism, mystery, suspense, and science…the spies and historical twist give it a lot of flavor. The illustrations are fluid and delightful.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Apothecary was a pretty well-thought out book with different layers of elements. For a first-time young reader's novel, it was exceptionally well. I enjoyed the book and it had clear descriptions so I could really see the characters. I would reccommend this book to others!
Who doesn't love a little alchemy in their stories? The Apothecary is fun adventure for both boys and girls. While the story is geared towards young readers (10 and up) there might be a bit of confusion about the story's basis. The storyline all happens because of politics, and involves talk of communism, Russian spies, atomic bombs, and war. Many middle grade readers won't know what's going on when it comes to these areas. The fantasy portion, which involves the alchemy I mentioned previously, is perfect for the young reader and is a lot of fun. The two kids, Janie and Benjamin, are courageous and get to do lots of cool things kids will envy them for. The miss for this book is the fact that the fantasy seems young while the political storyline seems old and it doesn't work to its fullest ability for either age range. As an adult I found everything to be predictable and felt that there was not enough depth to the characters involved. The Advanced Reader's Copy that I read didn't have the complete artwork in it yet, but from the pages that did contain the illustrations - I thought they were great and added a good touch to the story. ARC Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.
This is the best book on the planet!!!!!!! For people who like action and adventure!!!! Buy it it is great
I LOVE this book. It is great for seven and up. :) my sister read it and LOVED it! She was thrilled. I loved it to. I bet he or she has more books that are amazing. If you like this book (if you read it) you you love it to!!!!!!!!!
This was an amazing book, i would highly recommend it. I really hope they make more!
The Apothecary is a wonderful book. It is geat for grades 6-8, and provides a perfect balance of romance, magic, and mystery. If you enjoy adventures this book will keep you reading and never wanting to stop. Not only does it have a good writing style, but it also provides the right amount of challenge and fun for a young reader. I hope there is to be a sequel written, for this would definalty engage the reader alittle more.
First off, if you didn't know what an Apothecary is, it's another name for a Pharmacist or a person who prepares and sells medicine/drugs. I was going to rate The Apothecary 3 1/2 stars in the beginning because the story drags on and is some what monotonous, but you get use to the writing style and towards the end it started to get really good. And the ending was just perfect. Jane Scott, aka Janie which she prefers to be called, is a 14 year old who lives in Los Angeles with her parents. They soon secretively leave and move to London when Janie gets followed home from school by the government. The government believes that Jane's parents are communists, so they are placed on a list with other people who needs to be "watched." On arriving to London, Janie dislikes everything from her new home, her new school, the uniform, and the "populars" of St. Beden's School. But soon all that changes when a simple Bomb Drill happens during lunch and a defiant boy who doesn't see the point to comply with hiding under the table catches her eye and draws her attention. On her way home from school she hears the familiar voice of the boy and realizes that he is the Apothecary's son, Benjamin. Janie eavesdrops on their conversation and over hears their argument on how Benjamin does not want to take on the family business. Benjamin's decision gets put into question after his father gets kidnapped and the only one he can turn to is Janie. Benjamin and Janie then go head on into a world of secrets, lies, danger, and things that you would never believe was possible, alchemy. I enjoyed Janie so much because she is very mature for a fourteen year old. She's witty and smart and not at all needy, juvenile, or the damsel in distress. Maile Meloy did very well to make Janie relatable and a great narrator in the story. Benjamin, the male protagonist, was really plain. That's not to say it was a bad thing. He was very refreshing to read because he didn't right off the bat fall "love at first sight" fancied Janie like most YAs produce. He was not so much as a bad boy persona but a driven and outspoken character. With all the trials and tribulations Benjamin and Janie went through, it left no room for a romantic relationship, however, there was room to blossom. Pip is such a character!! I love him! Pip plays the sidekick roll to the two, but he brought such a critical roll that without him the story would lack luster. He is very distinct, cocky, and comical that he made the most nerve wrecking of times enjoyable and humorous. I couldn't help but see The Apothecary side by side with The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass. The Apothecary is written whimsically and fairy tale like. A story I would love to be read to, and a story I will read to my son at bed time. The ending had me in tears and ended in a good note, some what as a stand alone. I can only wish The Apothecary is the beginning of a series and that there will be more adventures with Benjamin and Janie with Pip at the tow. Thank you Putnam Juvenile for this well liked ARC treat!!
Great read for a 5th grade lit group. Awesome vocabulary to work with can be creative for book reports. Possibly a bit long for end of year.
The only reason I didn't give this a full 5 stars is because I read it right after Nancy Farmer's epic novel, "The House of the Scorpion." The Apothecary is a mystery that takes place during the post WW II red scare. The story weaves together a creative premise of chemistry, physics, and politics to create an entertaining mystery.
Hand this one to kids looking for magical fantasy outside the box.
This is a delightful middle grade/young adult book replete with magic and young romance and set in 1952, so there are even history lessons about the Cold War and its impact in the West.Janie Scott, 14, lives in L.A. until her screenwriter parents get blacklisted, and then they all move to London. She feels very much the outsider at St. Beden¿s until she meets Benjamin Burrows, whose father is the local apothecary. Ben doesn¿t want to follow in his father¿s footsteps; he thinks being an apothecary is all about dispensing hot water bottles and ointments for diaper rash. He wants to be a spy. He enlists Janie to help him follow Leonid Shiskin, a man who works for the Soviet embassy, and to their astonishment, they discover Shishkin passing a secret message to Ben¿s dad. Soon afterwards, Ben¿s dad disappears, but not before entrusting to Ben and Janie an ancient book called the Pharmacopoeia containing secret recipes for magic herbal elixirs.Soon, the two children are chasing and being chased by Russians, Germans, double agents, and chemists, and discovering that the art of being an apothecary is not nearly so pedestrian as Ben had assumed. Moreover, they learn a bit about atomic weapons and containment theory, and readers get a good look at what attitudes and behaviors prevailed toward the Communists and their sympathizers after World War II. None of this is delivered didactically however; it all just comes out in the heat of the chase.Evaluation: I love the way the author managed to turn a civics lesson into a very fun, fast-paced adventure that also touches on important issues to kids, like the fear of fitting in at a new school, the value of going beyond first impressions, and the sweetness of a first love. Janie and Ben are both very likeable without being perfect, and exhibit a great deal of bravery without being crazy. Their other friends, Pip and Sarah, are also very well drawn.
For a book that is aimed generally at middle grade readers, I was surprised with how well it captured my attention. I loved the historical plot twists that were dusted with the fantastical magic of alchemy science. The characters are engaging. Watching the relationships grow and change are interesting. Overall its a quick and fun read.
Not many authors of literary fiction take a turn at writing young adult novels. Maile Meloy's Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It was one of the best short story collections I've read (I haven't read either of her previous novels). Now she has written The Apothecary, an adventure novel about a trio of fourteen year-olds who fall into a magical world of an apothecary and the ancient art/science/magic of alchemy. It is very good, although falls short of outstanding.The most interesting aspect of the novel is its setting in postwar Britain in 1952, with a backdrop of a city still scared by bombs, suffering through rationing, and living in fear of a nuclear war. Although these themes are highlighted by the contrast with sunny California, where the narrator is from before following her blacklisted parents to London. It also does a good job capturing British public schools, a magical cockney boy named "Pip", and the world of fourteen year old children.The magic itself is somewhere between imaginatively magical and a somewhat annoying deus ex machina that always makes books like this suffer to some degree from a combination of the improbable and the inevitable. If anything, the parts before the magic starts to reveal itself are more interesting. The adventure too moves along quickly with a series of short chapters. But it too is somewhat hackneyed and not fully satisfying, but never boring.
It's 1952 and Janie Scott has great parents, an interesting life in L.A. - she's happy. All of that changes because of The House of Un-American Activities Committee's interest in Janie's parents who are television writers in Hollywood. They say they're not Communists but the government is having them followed and is ready to arrest them soon. So the Scotts flee to England to write for a BBC Robin Hood tv show under assumed names. Janie is miserable to be leaving all she's ever known and not helping matters is the fact that England isn't as fully recovered from the destruction and rationing of the war as America is. Plus, Janie starts at a grammar school where she is out of place and made fun of by the other kids, especially popular and rich Sarah Jane Pennington. But the apothecary around the corner from their apartment is kind to her, giving her a potion for homesickness. She visits him after school one day and becomes involved in intrigue with his son Benjamin Burrows, who goes to her school. It turns out that Ben's Father is involved in a covert plot to stop the detonation and/or testing of an atomic bomb by the Russians near Norway. He plans to help three other scientists using a book called the Pharmocopeia that uses science to perform magical feats like invisibility, truth-telling and transforming into a bird. Will Janie and Benjamin be able to save Benjamin's father after he's kidnapped by rival spies? What is their Latin teacher Mr. Danby's connection? Are their classmate Sergei Shiskin and his father friend or foe, and can they trust the juvenile delinquent Pip? Also, there is romance brewing between Janie and Benjamin. This book was extremely well-written and it almost read like an autobiography most of the time. The Cold War and spies in general normally bore the tar out of me, but Maile Meloy kept me at the edge of my seat for the entire book. For a young adult debut it is very polished and has wonderful characters that are relatable and you can sympathize with easily. It is a must read for anyone who likes fish-out-of-water, high flying adventure stories.VERDICT: 5/5 Stars*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*
Writing unbelievable things in a way that convinces a reader is tough! Meloy does just that by whisking her heroine into a non-stop world of spies, traitors, atomic scientists, and ... pharmacists. This one's set in the McCarthy era/Commie Scare era and centered around a girl whose show-biz parents leave Los Angeles a step ahead of the Feds who want to grill them about their ties to Communism. The book is really solid through the middle and I couldn't put it down. The second half rushes too much and lacks some of the development that would have made the story rock solid. Then the writer succumbs to one of those "leave room for a sequel" unresolved endings. Still, the book left me wanting more and I'm guessing this is a writer to watch.
The Apothecary follows an American girl named Janie and an English boy named Benjamin on a wild and crazy adventure. Janie has moved to England with her screenwriter parents and finds fitting in with the locals a challenge. Then she meets Benjamin and hopes she has found a friend in the boy who spends his time playing spy and longing for a life full of adventure. Benjamin is the son of the local Apothecary and seems dead set on not following in his father's boring footsteps. Benjamin can't begin to imagine the secrets his father is keeping. Janie and Benjamin are soon immersed in a world of danger and magic that neither could have ever imagined as real.This book was so much fun! I loved all the characters. Janie, Benjamin, and Pip especially. The storyline was extremely intriguing and had me longing to find out what happened next. I loved that alchemy played a huge role in the plot. This book was 100% engaging and entertaining. I believe this is more MG than YA, but I feel it can easily appeal to readers of all ages.
This is a spy story of sorts, set in 1952 England, with some very impressive teenagers as the heroes. It is fast paced and magical and reminds me very much of the Harry Potter's books without whisking you away to a whole other world, but with the threat of atom bombs looming large every day.Janie is an American teen forced to move to England with her parents to get away from the blackballing of the "Red Scare" in Hollywood (they are script writers). She meets Benjamin, who is not afraid to state his mind to anyone about anything, at her new school. He is the son of the local apothecary, but is refusing to learn what in his eyes is the boring family business. That is until his father is kidnapped by the Russians, and the teens find an ancient book of his that contains spells that will help them find and save his father (and much, much more).Though meant for middle grades and teens, once you pick up this book you won't want to put it down, no matter what your age. It moves quickly with all sorts of surprises along the race to the very satisfying conclusion that makes the way for this to be a series. I, for one, very much hope so!
When Janie's family moves to post-WW2 London, she's not at all happy about her new home. Things start to improve for her when she makes friends with Benjamin, a handsome boy from her new school. Benjamin's father is an apothecary . . . a trade which proves more interesting than it first seems. Benjamin's father disappears, leaving Benjamin to protect an ancient book, the Pharmacopeia. Benjamin is skeptical about the merits of the book, which holds recipes for transformation, invisibility, and other improbables -- but it is true that strange and sinister individuals seem to be after the book. What are these people looking for? Do the magical recipes in the book really work? And what does all of this have to do with the Cold War, Communism, and the testing of a new atomic bomb?I very much enjoyed this book. The characters are well-developed and the action moves at just the right pace. The magic system is fascinating, if not fully explained, and setting it in post-war London adds an interesting flavor to the mix.
Janie and her parents move from Los Angeles to London after her parents manage to get on the notorious list in the 1950's. They write for the BBC and Janie meets an apothecary and his son, who is her age. This is a fun YA read that covers quite a bit of history, the cold war with the Duck and Cover song, Russian spies as Janie and Benjamin find themselves attempting to save a sacred book of Pharmacopoeia.
This was such a delightfully fun read! The story begins with a note from Janie to the reader, dated 2011. She reveals that she is ready to tell the story of when she was 14 years old in 1952. I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book. Janie is forced to leave Los Angeles with her parents. They must flee to London in order for her parents to avoid questioning, as suspected communists. Janie develops an interest in Benjamin after seeing him stand up for what he believes in. Janie and Benjamin are such lovable characters. There was such great characterization. I adored them both along with others. I had a smile on my face or was laughing out loud numerous times throughout the book. When I wasn¿t smiling, my heart was pacing. There are lots of suspenseful moments, where they get themselves into trouble. Or does trouble find them? Either way, there¿s plenty of action. Janie helps Benjamin to find his kidnapped father, the apothecary. His father left behind the Pharmacopoeia, a book filled with magical recipes. They must protect this book, and keep it from getting into the wrong hands of the soviet spies. They¿re not sure who they can trust, besides each other. Maile Meloy has created a magical story that was a joy to be pulled into. It was a pretty quick read. I read the whole book in one day. Even though it¿s a middle grade read, I wouldn¿t hesitate recommending this to all ages. I¿m 23 and enjoyed it immensely. After reading, I love this cover so much more. It depicts one of my favorite scenes from the book, with the message, allow for the possibilities. Watch out for this one in October, 2011.
First off, if you didn't know what an Apothecary is, it's another name for a Pharmacist or a person who prepares and sells medicine/drugs. I was going to rate The Apothecary 3 1/2 stars in the beginning because the story drags on and is some what monotonous, but you get use to the writing style and towards the end it started to get really good. And the ending was just perfect. Jane Scott, aka Janie which she prefers to be called, is a 14 year old who lives in Los Angeles with her parents. They soon secretively leave and move to London when Janie gets followed home from school by the government. The government believes that Jane's parents are communists, so they are placed on a list with other people who needs to be "watched."On arriving to London, Janie dislikes everything from her new home, her new school, the uniform, and the "populars" of St. Beden's School. But soon all that changes when a simple Bomb Drill happens during lunch and a defiant boy who doesn't see the point to comply with hiding under the table catches her eye and draws her attention.On her way home from school she hears the familiar voice of the boy and realizes that he is the Apothecary's son, Benjamin. Janie eavesdrops on their conversation and over hears their argument on how Benjamin does not want to take on the family business. Benjamin's decision gets put into question after his father gets kidnapped and the only one he can turn to is Janie.Benjamin and Janie then go head on into a world of secrets, lies, danger, and things that you would never believe was possible, alchemy.I enjoyed Janie so much because she is very mature for a fourteen year old. She's witty and smart and not at all needy, juvenile, or the damsel in distress. Maile Meloy did very well to make Janie relatable and a great narrator in the story. Benjamin, the male protagonist, was really plain. That's not to say it was a bad thing. He was very refreshing to read because he didn't right off the bat fall "love at first sight" fancied Janie like most YAs produce. He was not so much as a bad boy persona but a driven and outspoken character. With all the trials and tribulations Benjamin and Janie went through, it left no room for a romantic relationship, however, there was room to blossom.Pip is such a character!! I love him! Pip plays the sidekick roll to the two, but he brought such a critical roll that without him the story would lack luster. He is very distinct, cocky, and comical that he made the most nerve wrecking of times enjoyable and humorous.I couldn't help but see The Apothecary side by side with The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass. The Apothecary is written whimsically and fairy tale like. A story I would love to be read to, and a story I will read to my son at bed time. The ending had me in tears and ended in a good note, some what as a stand alone. I can only wish The Apothecary is the beginning of a series and that there will be more adventures with Benjamin and Janie with Pip at the tow.Thank you Putnam Juvenile for this well liked ARC treat!!
Read this in an ARC I was given at Book Expo America. Absolutely fabulous book, start to finish. I was raving about it to my 11-year-old and she was sort of putting me off, and then I read her the first two chapters. She was hooked! She took it and read in a day. I highly recommend this upcoming title. We passed it on to a close friend of hers and I recommended it to her parents as well. If you have an eager reader to buy for, this is a top pick for the fall/holiday season this year.Well-written, intelligent "fantasy" thriller that sets the time and place very well, featuring two likable teen protagonists who take on forces much bigger than they can imagine, including the Soviet Union and the Cold War Arms race. There are fantastic elements, but they are well placed in an otherwise straightforward mid-20th century milieu that will seem as long ago and faraway as any other work of historical fiction. I think kids who enjoy Harry Potter and Rick Riordan will be easily engaged.
"The Apothecary" is an easy young adult novel to read, and quickly captures the attention of the reader into wanting to learn more and more of Janie's adventures in London in 1952. The magical happenings of the characters never seem out of place, and as eccentric as some of the ideas and characters seem to be, everything fits together extremely well. I would especially recommend this novel to anyone who has ever felt out-of-place: whether because of a far-away move like Janie's, or if in their everyday life they feel slightly removed from those around them. This is, in essence, a book for those misfits. Janie is easy to relate to, and the book is amusing without being laugh-out-loud funny. Special praise for the artist Ian Schoenherr for the wonderful sketches at the start of each chapter (I wished that every sketch was complete in this advanced edition!).My biggest issue with this book is that I feel like there are tons of loose ends that never got a tidy finish. Even if Maile Meloy is intentionally leaving things open-ended for a sequel, there are still some questions that remain unanswered that I feel even a 13 year old reader will still be wondering about, especially concerning Janie's future with Benjamin. When combining the questions that arise at the end of the book with the letter to the reader at the start, these wonderings about Janie & Benjamin's future together feel like they need to be answered.The only other issue I have with this book is that some descriptions of characters and settings seem lacking. I know that this is a young adult novel and it doesn't need descriptions like Dickens, but the imagery could definitely be stronger in certain parts.
A brilliantly written novel set in 1950¿s, after World War II. That was never my type of book, but something about the cover caught my eye. Probably the best judged cover I¿ve ever picked up. It was exciting and full of magical adventure that could rival Harry Potter. It kept me entertained with it's action on every page. Janie and Benjamin are great characters too. Definitely a book worth picking up.
The Apothecary was one of the better young adult novels I've read this year. Intelligent, emotional, and thrilling, the story drew me in and kept hold of me from the very beginning.It's set in Cold War-era London, where everyone's suspicious of the Soviet Union, where the school thinks hiding the children under tables is suitable protection from bombs, where rations and fear make life hard. But beyond this is a hidden, magical world that Janie discovers with friends Benjamin and Pip--beginning with the kidnapping of Benjamin's father.Pros:Well written, moving story with three-dimensional characters and a plot that makes it hard to put the book down.Fans of J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, and Eion Colfer will love it.Cons:At times, it feels a bit more like a children's book than young adult, in that the characters are very naive and the thoughts are pretty juvenile. However, I'm going to attribute this to "it was a simpler time." The illustrations also contribute to the children's-book-feel, but they were pretty, so whatever.Anyway, it was a damn good read, and I'll definitely read it again before the year's out.