The Changeling

ISBN: 0595321801
ISBN 13: 9780595321803
By: Zilpha Keatley Snyder

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Reader's Thoughts


I love every book I've ever read by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and this one was no different. Snyder does such an excellent job of capturing the power of imagination in her books, but it is never obvious.One of these days I've got to do an author study of her, definitely one of my favorite all-time children's authors.


I loved this book as a preteen, and went back to see if it was as good as I remembered. It turns out to be more melancholy than I recalled, and I got a lot more of the class nuances as an adult. Partly I read it to see if my 7-year-old would enjoy it, and the verdict is: maybe when she's a preteen, but not now.

Orinthia Lee

This book is so good! I really enjoyed when reading it.The story is about a young girl who lack of confidence. Her older brother and sister are so popular, while her parents are sophisticated. But Martha feels like an ugly duckling surrounded by swans because she is overweight, buck-toothed, and shy.And the friendship between Martha and Ivy is heart warming. It's beautiful to see how their friendship can transforms Martha from ugly duckling to beautiful swan.I do think anyone who felt like an outcast will love this book.


This sounds like a sci-fi book, but it's not. This is a classic. It's a truly beautiful book that all ages will appreciate.

Alissa Bach

A sophomore in high school, the pretty and popular Martha Abbott is worlds different from who she used to be: A shy, chubby outcast known to her family as Marty Mouse, a little girl who cried often and who used books and daydreams to escape from the reality of the world around her. Back then, the only person who truly understood Martha was Ivy Carson, the second-youngest daughter of a large, low-income family from the other side of town. The Carsons have earned themselves quite a bad reputation (Mrs. Carson is an alcoholic, Mr. Carson is a debtor, and several of the older carson children have been busted for various criminal activities), but Ivy is different. Even though Martha's upper-class family doesn't exactly approve, Martha and Ivy become friends...and this friendship is the only thing that gets Martha through those difficult growing-up years. Then comes the day Ivy and her family vanishes without warning, without a trace. But her friendship with Ivy strengthened Martha more than she knew and she is able to finally crawl out of her mousehole, put aside the daydreams that once consumed her, and live in the real world. She has learned to live without Ivy in her life.But now, when Martha is a sophomore, she gets word that the Carson family has returned to the area...and Martha is worried: Now that she's so different (both inwardly and outwardly) than she was last time she and Ivy talked, can the two girls still be friends? Is there even a place for Ivy in Martha's life now?


The Changeling was originally published in 1970 and republished in Dec. of 2012. When my children were young, we read Snyder's The Egypt Game, which remains one of my favorite juvenile books. The Changeling won a Newbery Honor Book Award, the Christopher Medal, and was named an outstanding book for young people by the Junior Library Guild.This is a YA novel about growing up, friendship, imagination, and trust. When seven-year-old Martha Abbot, a little overweight and shy, meets Ivy Carson, a friendship blossoms that saves both girls from their very different outcast states. Ivy's family has a terrible reputation (drinking, vandalism, debt), and regardless of how different Ivy is--she is labeled a Carson. Martha, who doesn't fit in with her accomplished family (or anywhere else) finds the perfect companion in Ivy to help her brave the world. In self-defense, Ivy has decided that she is a changeling, and Martha has no real difficulty excepting this fact. For the next eight years, the Carson's move in and out of Martha's life, as they pack up and leave for a year or two (escaping whatever trouble they've gotten themselves into) and then return. Although a hint of the darkness of Ivy's home life hangs in the air, the girls' friendship keeps both girls a bit removed from the fray of everyday life...until an act of vandalism leaves Ivy and Martha accused of the crime.I loved this book. Highly recommended.Net Galley/Open Road Young Readers.YA. 1970 and 2012. Print version 226 pages. ISBN-10: 0595321801


I read this book for the first time as an adult, despite knowing about it since I was a kid, and my first thought was "Why didn't I ever read this when I was in middle school?" I went through something similar as Martha, and my bully was also named Kelly. I also liked making up stories and lived in a bit of a fantasy world as a kid. I felt like this book really told a great story of what it's like to be a kid.The main story revolves around a friendship between two girls, Martha and Ivy. Martha comes from a upper middle class family, and Ivy comes from a sketchier background. Ivy has many siblings and her family is always taking up and leaving at random, usually because someone in the family has gotten into some trouble. Martha's family doesn't approve of Ivy and discourages her from spending time with Ivy.Martha ends up hanging out with Ivy in most of her spare time anyway, and they invent elaborate fantasy stories. Ivy claims to be a "changeling," which is a baby born to a magical being and is switched at birth with a human baby. Considering how unusual Ivy is compared to most everyone else Martha knows, she figures Ivy just might be telling the truth.Martha has a neighbor, Kelly, who is the most popular girl in their class and likes to give Martha a hard time. With Ivy's help, Martha is able to gain more confidence throughout the story.I would recommend this book to anyone. It may have been written for children and teenagers, but I think most people could find something to relate to in the characters. A very well-written book and completely deserving of the awards it won.


This was my favorite book as a girl! I read it over and over and over! I found it a few years ago hidden in a box of old things. The cover was falling off, the binding was disintegrating, but I put it in a plastic bag to keep forever, until I have a daughter of my own to pass it along to. Great book for 12-14 year olds!

Sherwood Smith

read this just out of my teens, and loved it to pieces. My paperback is falling apart, alas, so I have not reread it for some twenty years. So I don't know how it holds up to my adult view, but the friendship, the approach to being different and creativity were impressive to me when young.


Excerpts from my Postcards from La-La Land combo review of Snyder's The Changeling and Janet Taylor Lisle's Afternoon of the Elves:. . . . .Back when I wrote my first Nostalgic Review, I mentioned that Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Changeling had a similar story line [as Janet Taylor Lisle's Afternoon of the Elves]. I used to think Snyder’s story was a re-interpretation of Lisle’s, but in fact it’s the other way around, since The Changeling was published in 1970. Not that Lisle was necessarily conscious of the similarities — she describes her inspiration coming from an actual little village a neighbor’s daughter made in her yard — but just reading the jacket summary set the wild echoes flying* for me.…. I like that neither story tells you absolutely, definitively whether the hints of magic are real or imagined, whether Ivy and Sara-Kate are truly who they say they are, whether these books can be considered fantasies or not. The reader has to decide for her- or himself.The biggest difference between the two stories is the final tone. Afternoon of the Elves feels much more bittersweet, whereas The Changeling has a more hopeful feeling in the end. I’d forgotten that about Lisle’s story — it’s been over ten years since I last read it. The saddest thing (no spoilers, I promise) is how people talk about Sara-Kate, how they blame her both for being too strong and for being too vulnerable. She’s independent, so she must be conniving and cruel. And yet how can someone so strong be such a failure in other senses? How can she not have asked for help? It’s as though they forget she’s only eleven.. . . . .* Tennyson, "The Splendor Falls"


This is the book that first introduced me to Zilpha Keatley Snyder, who was my absolute favorite author as a kid. This book is not a fantasy, but it did inspire a fantasy series, the excellent Green Sky trilogy. Marty "the mouse" becomes friends with Ivy Carson, an unusual girl from a large and notorious family, who claims to be a changeling. I really can't do the book justice, but I think anyone who's felt like an outcast, or had a life-changing friendship (or wanted one) will love this book.

Diane Greiner

A story about growing up, with the main characters being too young girls. Even though the imagination probably holds true for many young girls, I found it hard to believe the age the author had her main characters still playing in make-believe. This story moved at a slow pace and I had to force myself to the end of the story. This would not be a story I would recommend to anyone. There are too many good stories out there to have to push yourself through a story that is just okay.


This is my favorite book ever! I just started a book blog about YA books ( and my second post was dedicated to Zilpha Keatley Snyder, especially this book. I keep buying copies to give away. I first read it when I was in third grade, but now I return to it often. It still makes me smile and sometimes, I must confess, it still gets me teary.


A re-read. Snyder's sure hand at the wheel gives this story a ring of truth and an immediacy flavored with the not-quite-supernatural. When I read it as a kid, I identified so closely with Ivy that I fancied myself a changeling too. Reading it as an adult, I have much more insight into both Ivy and me, and I still identify with her. I want to know what happened to her, where she's dancing now. A lovely, transcendent book.


I enjoy Snyder's stories because they handle the spaces in between so gently and lovingly. Martha and Ivy have to navigate a world of adults with rules that don't make much sense, but they find each other and spaces in between school and home - the stable, the trees - that give them a chance to be themselves, try out new selves, to imagine new worlds. The book takes them from age 7 through high school, and especially the transition between the innocence of not knowing that there are bad things in the world and the discovery of them when they touch you.

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