Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Apothecary and Little Women and Me

Unlike my daughter, Lucinda,  science fiction and fantasy is not my favorite genre.  In order for books of this genre to capture my attention and imagination, they must have a little something extra.  I look for interesting characters, plots which have just enough realism to make me believe in the fantasy, symbolism which makes the story work of multiple levels, and skillful writing which has enough suspense to keep me turning the pages.  Some of my favorites are the Narnia books, the Harry Potter books, everything by Madeleine L’Engle, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and Peter Rabbit.  I took The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, illustrations by Ian Schoenherr (Putnam/Penguin,  2011) with me on vacation and couldn’t put it down.

It is 1952 and fourteen-year-old Janie Scott has moved with her family from Los Angeles to London.  One of her first acquaintances is Benjamin Burrows, the son of the local apothecary.  When the apothecary disappears, Janie and Benjamin are drawn into a dangerous journey to find Mr. Burrows and prevent an impending nuclear disaster.  The historical setting of Cold War era London, supporting characters which leap off the page, and a breathtaking rescue operation – all seasoned with a touch of magic – make a wonderful reading experience for ages 10 and up.

Lucinda says that Christmas always makes her think of Little Women.  For all of you Alcott fans, I suggest Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Bloomsbury, 2011).  When Emily March is given the school assignment of describing one thing she’d change about a classic novel, her choice is Little Women.  Just like most readers, Emily has always wanted Jo, rather than Amy, to end up with Laurie, and she really did not want Beth to die.  As she gets into her assignment, Emily is transported into the 1860s world of the Concord March family.  She thinks she might be able to actually alter the events of the story, but discovers things are not always as they seem.  The reader is treated to a time travel fantasy and is also able to revisit an old favorite--Wilma Snyder.  

Lucinda Whitehurst and Wilma Snyder wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and wonderful New Year!  Please join us in 2012!