By Maile Meloy
Illustrated by Ian Schoenherr
368 pages – ages 9+
Published by Putnam on October 4, 2011
During the 1950’s, Janie was a normal American girl from a
normal family that the American government accused of being communists. Janie’s family fled to London because of the accusations. In London Janie isn’t really happy but she meets Benjamin. Benjamin’s father runs the town’s apothecary and one day while they were at the apothecary, Benjamin’s father gave a special book to him and told Janie and Benjamin to hide in a secret room in the apothecary. Janie and Benjamin hear men speaking German and when the men leave, Benjamin’s father is missing! The children find out that the special book the Apothecary gave Benjamin is full of magical spells and they realize that the book is what the German’s were after! They also soon realize they are mixed up in a very dangerous international conflict. The children now have to keep the book safe, find Benjamin’s father and stop the Germans from testing a nuclear bomb on an island off the coast of Norway!
The story in this book was really cool! I thought there were some really funny parts to it and there was A LOT of adventure. The book had no bad language and nothing inappropriate for younger kids to read. I like Janie as a main character. She was determined and fearless (mostly fearless). Benjamin was also a good character. The one problem I had with the book is that I didn’t understand some of the history in the book. Like why people in America in the 1950s were being accused of being communists (or even what a communist is). There was a lot about the cold war, I know about this but I think some kids may not and I think the book could have explained things a bit better. I like how magic was involved in the story. I think it made it a lot of fun. So there was spies AND wizards in the story – AWESOME! The illustrations in the book were really good and finely detailed, nice to look at!
Categories: Age 9+