Book Review: The Apothecary by Maile Meloy


Hello! is here with a fun book for middle grade kids of both genders.


Here is the story:

The year is 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. It is there that fourteen-year-old Janie meets a strange and mysterious apothecary and his son Benjamin, a boy who stands up to authority and longs to become a spy. When Benjamin's father is kidnapped, Benjamin and Jamie must get to work solving the secrets of his sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, to find him. This proves to be a challenge as they struggle to keep it out of the hands of their enemies--Russian spies with nuclear weapons. Together, Janie and Benjamin test and discover potions they never could have imagined while they race to save Benjamin's father and prevent total disaster.

Here is the scoop:

Gripping from the first page, this book for middle graders is set during the Cold War. Janie and her parents, who are TV writers, move to London after they are blacklisted in Hollywood. There, she meets Benjamin and has a series of adventures involving spies, magic, potions, lots of action, and a smidge of romance. Janie and Benjamin are smart and likeable hero(ine)s that will appeal to middle school kids. The book has beautiful illustrations throughout, which lend to its charm. The Apothecary is one of those historical fiction books that sneaks in a bit of history without being boring, and is in fact quite the page-turner. It would make a great classroom selection or book report choice because not only is it a great read, but also completely wholesome and educational. Discussion could be had about the Cold War and the McCarthy Era.