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At the Sign Of the Sugared Plum Kindle Edition

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Length: 180 pages

Sing for Us
Historical Fiction
Based on a true story, Sing for Us is a riveting tale of love and hope in the last days of the Civil War. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-Hannah arrives in London in 1665 to help her sister run her sweetmeats shop just as the plague is taking hold of the city. While at first it seems far away in the poorer sections, it gradually creeps closer to Hannah and Sarah. Soon, nearby houses are being shut up and neighbors and acquaintances are dying. The sisters feel trapped, waiting for the time bomb that is the plague to explode. The author convincingly conveys the horror of this epidemic through the senses. From the fetid smell of the streets to the ghastly sights of overwhelming cemeteries, the scope of the disaster is impressively wrought. The story moves quickly and the tension builds at a rapid pace and will hold readers' interest. The book also contains an analysis of the plague and recipes for sweetmeats. A captivating entry in the historical fiction genre.
Kristen Oravec, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville, OH
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. In the summer of 1665, Hannah travels to London to live with her older sister, Sarah, the owner of a sweetmeats shop. But the bubonic plague begins taking hold, and although Hannah enjoys the excitement of big-city life, the realities of the epidemic soon become impossible to ignore. Hooper fills her story with the sights, sounds, and smells of seventeenth-century London: heads decorate London Bridge, and the putrid aroma of rotting meat and kitchen slops pervades the air. Secondary characters--among them an apothecary and his apprentice--help to broaden Hannah's experiences and enhance the many setting and historical details. Quotes from Samuel Pepys' Diary head each chapter, and appended notes and a glossary add to the authenticity of the story. Historical fiction buffs will find much to like, and classes studying the period will find this an excellent resource, especially when paired with James Cross Giblin's When Plague Strikes (1995), or Jim Murphy's An American Plague [BKL Je 1 & 15 03], which brings the tragedy of an epidemic closer to home. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 549 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1582348499
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (July 4, 2011)
  • Publication Date: July 4, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055S2GFY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,609 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Georgina on May 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This would appear to be aimed at 10-13 year olds and tells the story of two sisters living in London in 1665. The plague is taking hold and while they work in their sweetmeats shop they witness the horror of the disease. The quotes at the beginning of the chapters are from Pepys's Diary and there are many interesting historical details. Unfortunately there are also a lot of references to English history in the 1600s (Puritans, Cromwell's head erroneously placed at Traitor's Gate, the restoration of Charles II to the throne etc) without any proper explanations at the end of the book where there is a glossary and discussion about the plague.

It is also quite gruesome - within the first few pages our heroine is worried about rotting flesh dropping off heads on stakes as she walks under Traitor's Gate! No mention why there are rotting heads on stakes, mind you. Then it gets pretty nasty when the plague descriptions come along (pits of corpses, nightmares about being trapped in such pits, pain driving one to suicide....). There are a couple of references to whores and prostitutes and sexually transmitted diseases but I think they would go over the heads of most 10 year olds.

The history is interesting. She covers costume, makeup, shops, theatre, the court, water collection, apothecaries, superstitions to ward off the plague and copious detail about the dead and dying. The characters however are not well drawn and are surprisingly unsympathetic despite their dire circumstances. The end is poor but I see there is a sequel to this which covers the Great Fire of London.

I am surprised this is published by a mainstream publisher - it reeks of "educational" historical fiction similar to Jackie French's work. If you want an example of hisotical fiction where the characters are developed and the plot more exciting then try Harnett, Trease or Sutcliff. They are in a different league.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Education Oasis on December 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is June, 1665 and young Hannah---fresh from her small country village---excitedly arrives in London to help her sister, Sarah, at Sarah's sweetmeats shop called The Sugared Plum. Hannah's excitement is tempered, however, when she learns that the plague has broken out in London .
As the two young women create miniature, candied confections, they watch and wait quietly as the dreaded disease begins to move closer to their parish. Soon "Orders" are posted which lists the rules and procedures that Londoners must follow to help prevent spread of the sickness. The well-to-do, able to obtain "Certificates of Health" begin to leave the city.
Bills of Mortality, which list the number of deaths during the week, begin to rise steadily. Mention of hundreds of dead soon rises to thousands. More alarming than the rising numbers, however, are the immediate, personal signs that the plague is running rampant. Hannah sees, to her horror, houses near their shop which have been "enclosed" because someone inside had died of the disease. The remaining occupants must live inside, behind padlocks and chains, guarded day and night for forty days.
Just when all seems lost, Hannah discovers a means of escape. But will it be too late?
This well-written story is fast-paced and alive with believable characters. The author has skillfully woven throughout enough background information so that readers will be able to identify with young Hannah and all that is happening to her. Also included are a glossary, "Notes on London 's Plague," and recipes from the seventeenth century.
Reviewed by the Education Oasis staff.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Teenaged Hannah has lived all her life in the English countryside, so she is thrilled when, in the summer of 1665, her older sister Sarah invites her to come live with her in London and help her at her candy shop. However, arriving in London she finds Sarah had sent a second letter instructing her not to come. Plague has taken hold in London, and Sarah fears for Hannah's life. Hannah insists on staying, believing she will be safe. But to her horror, in the coming weeks more and more people die, and the sickness becomes an epidemic. Hannah finds herself living every day in fear that she will catch the Plague and die from it, for there is little hope of surviving it, and no way of leaving the city to escape.

I recommend this book to readers who like historical fiction and are interested in this time period. It brings to life the daily life of people in the 17th century and the horrors of living in a city filled with disease. The historical details were fascinating and I learned a lot.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nicole St.Clair on August 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I truly enjoyed reading this book with my 10 yr old daughter. It allowed her to hear how young girls used to live in different centuries and see the differences in the standards of living. She had never heard of the the plague and it inspired her to do some research, she was able to view the world from a different cultural and historical perspective. It was wonderful to share.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shanna A. Gonzalez on May 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Hannah and Sarah are teenaged entrepreneurs, sisters running a shop in 1665 London wherein they make sugar-frosted rose petals and other sweetmeats for the nobility. Hannah, who has recently joined her sister, is excited at the prospect of a big-city life and complacently dismisses rumors that the Bubonic Plague is reawakening in London. By the time she realizes her optimism is unfounded, the city is quarantined and she watches in horror as neighbors succumb, one by one, to the mysterious sickness that no one knows how to prevent. Gravediggers are overwhelmed, and death carts roam the streets awakening fear and grief as the dead are carried away.

This is a nice bit of historical fiction, capturing pretty vividly a significant period of European history. The specific symptoms of the Plague, as well as the many ineffective attempts at prevention and containment, are described in some detail. While there are some gruesome scenes, the details are presented sparingly enough that the 8-12 audience should not be overwhelmed by the horror of the situation. The book is well researched, with a passage from Pepys' diary opening each chapter, and an afterword giving historical explanation and additional resources.

One could wish the heroine were a bit more admirable -- she is flighty, vain, and contemplates often her dying friend's admonition not to die unkissed. Her sweetheart is tentative and not forthcoming about his intentions in pursuing her, although he comes close to kissing her and risks his life to help her escape from the city.
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