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At the Sign Of the Sugared Plum [Kindle Edition]

Mary Hooper
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

‘You be going to live in the city, Hannah?' Farmer Price asked, pushing his battered hat up over his forehead. ‘Wouldn''t think you'd want to go there . . . Times like this, I would have thought your sister would try and keep you away.' Hannah is oblivious to Farmer Price's dark words, excited as she is about her first ever trip to London to help her sister in her shop ‘The Sugared Plum', making sweetmeats for the gentry. Hannah does not however get the reception she expected from her sister Sarah. Instead of giving Hannah a hearty welcome, Sarah is horrified that Hannah did not get her message to stay away - the Plague is taking hold of London.

Based on much research, Mary Hooper tellingly conveys how the atmosphere in London changes from a disbelief that the Plague is anything serious, to the full-blown horror of the death carts and being locked up - in effect to die - if your house is suspected of infection.

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)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055S2GFY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,815 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could do with some editing but educational May 27, 2011
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! December 7, 2003
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
5.0 out of 5 stars One girl's story during the Great Plague of 1665. July 17, 2003
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A step back into time... August 11, 2003
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book ever!!! by Jessica L April 10, 2004
A Kid's Review
At the sign of the sugared plum is a touching story and is the best book I've ever read! The story-line is of Hannah and her older sister Sarah struggling through difficult times as the plague threatens them in every chapter. Bringing the scene alive is exatly what Mary Hooper acheives, you can imagine the sights and smells of London, the church bells ringing constantly declaring more deaths as the sisters parish becomes infected.Also the fear stricken into Hannah as she discovers more and more blood, red crosses on doors and the dreaded words: God have mercy on us! This is also a very educational book telling you about the scenes of London, the symtoms of the plague such as the buboes and tokens that apper on the body. Everything seems so real as they travel through the disease stricken land-the pits piled high to the brim with corpses and the smell of preventives everywhere! I don't think Hannah will have any more time to worry about her bright red hair or freckles! This is a must read book!!!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly enjoyed it.
Delightful story, well written, thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 2 months ago by GW1947
4.0 out of 5 stars I hope I have made good choices but I will only find out in the ...
I am unable to write a review on any of these orders as I had them sent to my granddaughter in the U.S. as Christmas presents. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dorothea
5.0 out of 5 stars soooooooo good
I loved this book soooooooooooooo much. It is my absolutely positively favorite book. I just could not stop reading. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazing3
3.0 out of 5 stars Plums not so sweet
Very entertaining & informative, BUT. It has an abrupt ending. They escape, but did they survive? We're they able to return, did Hannah get to see her Tom again& share one... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Timmer
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I could not get into this book. Story was weak and took to long to get moving. I really could not get into reading this.
Published 9 months ago by A.Law
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but . . .
. . . too short! This period of history in England is a subject I am enamoured of, but just got started reading and ran out of book!
Published 9 months ago by Donna S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
It was very interesting to learn all the wonderful facts on the plague the ending for me creates a lot of tention which makes me want to buy the second book I hope it is exciting... Read more
Published 13 months ago by brenda o'leary
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story
I have read this book three times since I bought it. Simple, well written, tells a wonderful story about love and adventure in London during the plaque. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Michelle
4.0 out of 5 stars Still reading an d it's keeping my attention
I must admit I bought this book because of the title which fascinated me. As an avid reader I sometimes just want something with no heavy plot or message. This gives me all that.
Published 20 months ago by B. A. Morrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly well written
I was so grateful for the definitions in the back. I love historical fiction and thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for the sequel!
Published 21 months ago by Book Lover
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