Monday, April 5, 2010

Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman

Alchemy and Meggy Swan

By Karen Cushman

The importance of being accepted is probably the number one issue facing children today as it was in the Elizabethan Era of Meggy Swann.

In the tradition of most Karen Cushman novels - this story takes you deep into the period "After the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne of England but afore London's first theater and Shakespeare".

You will feel the uneven cobblestones, smell the reeking streams of waste, hear the tunes of the balladeers and the jeers of the passersby at Meggy's crooked body.

Cushman draws you into the period and Meggy's world of daily pain and rejection - but this book is not without joy. When Roger and a troupe of "players" come into Meggy's life things begin to change.

5th Grade through tweens and teens will love Meggy's troubles, travails and her pluck!

While it can be a bit cumbersome at the start, the Olde English dialect soon feels second nature and what a great introduction for kids that will soon be asked to read Shakespeare. I think that starting them out with a storyline they will relate to and a heroine closer to their age will make learning to understand this conversational style so much easier.

Cushman includes information on the "alchemy" of the day and explanations of the language and customs of the time in the "Authors Notes" at the end of the book. What a wonderful teaching opportunity!

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