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Great learning gifts for your fourth grader

Fun and learning all in one with these 7 favorite holiday picks.

By GreatSchools Staff

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By Maile Meloy, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr

Ages: 10 and up

Imagine a cross between Harry Potter and Nancy Drew. That blend of magic and mystery propel this fast-paced novel set in the 1950s cold-war era. Janie Scott is an American teen forced to abruptly move from Los Angeles to London with her parents. There she meets a mysterious apothecary and his son Benjamin, who intrigues her by his willingness to stand up to authority and dreams of someday becoming a spy. When Russian spies kidnap Ben’s father, he and Janie are soon plunged into a real espionage adventure. The two find an ancient book, the Pharmacopoeia, which contains magical spells and potions they must use to save Ben’s father and prevent impending nuclear disaster.

Bottom line: The suspense and fast-pacing make The Apothecary, a compelling and easy read for middle-schoolers, though some may be put off by the romantic bits between Janie and Benjamin.

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