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The Apothecary Hardcover – October 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780399256271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399256271
  • ASIN: 039925627X
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Maile Meloy’s enchanting E. B. White Award-winning novel, THE APOTHECARY:
 
 
“Inventive, smart and fun, an absolute delight.”—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me
 
 
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.”
 
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.’”

About the Author

Maile Meloy is the author of the story collection Half in Love, and the novels Liars and Saints, shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize, and A Family Daughter. Meloy’s stories have been published in The New Yorker, and she has received The Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2007, she was chosen as one of Granta’s Best American Novelists under 35. She lives in California.

More About the Author

Maile Meloy is the author of the story collection Half in Love and the novel Liars and Saints, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize. Meloy's stories have been published in The New Yorker, and she has received The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in California.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 91 customer reviews
The book is fast-paced and full of excellent plot twists.
K. Eckert
It's one of my favorite books and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction and fantasy.
Eliza Claire
Once you read the book, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids Book Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By K. Eckert on October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I got an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher. This was an excellent book. It is based during the cold-war and touches on issues that were important then (Communism and the atomic bomb, Nationalism) as well as entwining magic throughout the story. Very well written and a pleasure to read, with beautiful black and white illustrations. I finished it in one sitting and enjoyed every minute of it.

In the early 1950's Janie's parents are suspected of being sympathetic to Communism; as a result Janie and her family are forced to flee from America to London. In London Janie is miserable until she stumbles into Benjamin Burrows. Benjamin is the son of an apothecary and wants to be a spy; he ropes Janie into helping him spy in the park one day. Little do they know that there are very dangerous events afoot and Benjamin's father is part of them. Their innocent spying turns into a flight for their lives as they are drawn into a conflict that spans nations and involves a magical book called the Phramacopia.

I loved this book because it just covered so many different things and made them into a wonderful cohesive and magical story. There is a lot in here about cold war politics, the atom bomb, international spies, and war in general; but there are also other issues covered like fitting in at a new school, the morality of war, idealism in science, and the responsibilities of those who wield great (magical and scientific) power.

Janie is a wonderful character; she is realistic, resourceful, and very easy to relate too. I loved her parents; they treat her like the smart kid she is and are witty and funny.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Book Sake VINE VOICE on October 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Darlington on October 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Meloy's since Liars and Saints and I was surprised to hear she had written a book for children. But it is not just for children. It is a beautifully written book that feels like an instant classic. She takes a her young heroine Janie Scott from Hollywood during the days of the Blacklist and brings her to war torn London. The beginning is so evocative and realistic that when the book moves into espionage and magical elixirs it all feels like it all really happened.

WHat is especially amazing about The Apothecary is that in the midst of a thrilling story, I learned so much. About the Cold War, about the Chelsea Physic Garden (a place I am dying to go visit), about the arms race and the testing of nuclear weapons. And while I loved the more amazing of the spells and tinctures, it was the magic that felt emotional that really made the book great. The Smell of Truth and how it makes both Janie and the boy she likes (Benjamin) confess their feelings for each other was especially wonderful. And at the end I felt such a sense of loss, I was sad it was over and I wouldn't be able to live with these characters anymore. I hear she's writing a sequel. I can't wait.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Book 'Em! Blog on October 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Loved every moment of this novel. The plot was inventive and the reader was magnificent.

Fourteen-year-old Janie and her parents move from L.A. to London in 1952 to escape questions of communism. In London her parents will write for a new Robin Hood series, and Janie will continue being fourteen - just with a new school and new friends.

Instead, Janie becomes friends with Benjamin Burrows whose only dream in life is to become a spy. He has already picked out his first suspected Russian "spy" to watch, and soon Janie and Benjamin are caught up in more than either ever bargained for.

Benjamin's father is an apothecary and expects his son to follow in his footsteps, but Benjamin wants more out of life than selling hot water bottles. Little does he know who his father really is nor why following in his footsteps could lead him to his real future as a spy.

The heart of this story lies with the friendship formed between Janie and Benjamin. At first it seems that readers will follow Janie, but soon it becomes apparent that Benjamin is an equally important piece of this plot's puzzle.

The strength lies with the fast-moving plot. The author does not hold back, thrusting readers into an international tale of friendship, family, and espionage.

The character development is spot on with interesting twists and turns throughout. Even the novel's conclusion is tightly woven together and will leave readers satisfied. That was my one true fear: how would this end and leave me satisfied? Meloy accomplished just that, and The Apothecary is going to have a strong hold on childrens literature for years to come.

I did this as an audio, and the reader was fantastic.
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