Book review: Alchemy and Meggy Swann, by Karen Cushman

Karen Cushman.  Alchemy and Meggy Swann. Clarion Books, 2010. Advanced Reader Copy. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-547-23184-6. 176 p. Gr. 5-8. P8Q10

cushman-alchemy-and-meggy-swannMeggy Swann has been summoned to London by her father, an alchemist.  Her mother is glad to see the last of her daughter and leaves no opportunity for her to return to their small village. When she arrives in London, Meggy realizes her father doesn’t actually want her either.  Her only friend is a goose, she’s crippled, and must serve as her reclusive father’s helper.  It is a tough life for Meggy, but she carves her own way.

Verdict: Cushman is masterful at establishing a sense of place, economy of words, and creating character.  It is no wonder she won a Newbery and this book certainly deserved the starred review it received in School Library Journal.  It will require a tenacious reader to sort through some of the use of Renaissance era English, but it is worth the journey.

October 2016 review by Shelly Jones.

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