Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull, 2007, 363p
Rating=4 stars, Middle-Grade Fiction
Source: Own paperback copy

Welcome to the Sweet Tooth Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe, where the confections are a bit on the . . . unusual side. Rock candy that makes you weightless. Jawbreakers that make you unbreakable. Chocolate balls that make you a master of disguise.

Four young friends, Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon, meet the grandmotherly Mrs. White, owner of the Sweet Tooth, and soon learn about the magical side effects of her candies. 

In addition, the ice cream truck driver, Mr. Stott, has arrived with a few enchanted sweets of his own. But what about the mysterious man in the dark overcoat and fedora hat? Why are all these "magicians" trying to recruit Nate and his friends? Who should they trust?

The mystery deepens and the danger unfolds as the four youngsters discover that the magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary, hidden treasure; one that could be used for great evil if it fell into the wrong hands. The kids, now in over their heads, must try to retrieve the treasure first. And so, the war begins . . . (Amazon)

This was originally written as a stand alone which is why I picked it up. The good thing about that is the story is nicely wrapped up and can end there for you if you choose. However, because my children and I loved this story, when we found out a second book was out, we had to read it (book 2 came out in 2012). I was interested to see how he was going to continue it and loved what he did and he did a great job setting up book 3, which I'm hoping will come out later this year (but I can't find any concrete info on it--if anyone knows, feel free to enlighten me).

Nate is new in town and meets Summer, Trevor and Pigeon. It takes him a few weeks to adjust and, after a run in with the local bullies, they become friends. They decide to check out the new candy shop one day and meet the owner, Belinda White, who offers to reward them with treats if they help with some chores. They agree and she lets them know she has secret candy but won't tell them anything else about it. She has them collect a few ingredients for her before she'll let them in on the secret. When they finally are able to try the candy, they're hooked and do what they need to in order to keep getting more.

She then sends them on missions and they're not always comfortable with what she asks them to do but the alternative is to no longer have access to her candy that gives them magical powers. They get more and more involved and get to a point where they have to make a choice between who to help. 

I thought it was interesting that the adults don't catch on to what's going on because they're addicted to her white fudge which makes it difficult for those who eat it to notice the powers her special treats give to others. Mull addresses this in his Reading Guide when he asks, "Do your parents pay enough attention to you, or does it seem like they're eating too much white fudge? Explain. If you could spend the whole day with your mom or dad, what would you do?" This is definitely something to think about as an adult, especially since there are more distractions now than when the book was written. 

This is a fun, creative book with lots of fun candy and powers and we were able to have a lot of great discussions throughout. What would they do in a certain situation? Which power would they like to have the most? Which character do they like the best and would want to be friends with? 

We also really enjoyed book 2 and are excited for book 3 to come out. We're also going to start his Beyonders series in the fall and we're looking forward to that. If you haven't read a Brandon Mull book yet (he also wrote Fablehaven), you need to do it!!


Katie W said...

Too funny!!! We're reading this for our book club this month (the meeting's tonight). I'm not quite done, but I'll be posting a review on this one soon. :)

Melanie said...

I'm excited to hear what you think of it!

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