Thursday, August 25, 2011

Before the Blog (5): The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

Some of you already know this, but I've started a weekly meme called "Before the Blog". In short, it's a place to review books you read and loved before you began blogging about them. Basically, you choose a book each week, then answer the following three questions,and post your review.   Then you can add your post to the little Mr. Linky widget below, and voila!

Why did you choose this book? 
When did you read this book?
Who would you recommend this book to?

For more info, see my 1st BtB post by clicking this LINK.   The book I chose this week is technically a MG novel, but I loved it, as did some of the older kids I've recommended it to.  Brandon Mull is known for his Fablehaven series and his new Beyonders series.

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publication Date: September 11th, 2007

Why did you choose this book?  I was previewing it for a possible book to highlight with our storyteller at my daughter's school book fair.  I was familiar with Brandon Mull from reading Fablehaven, and I really like him.  I though the synopsis sounded great.

When did you read this book?  April, 2009

Who would you recommend this book to?  3rd/4th grade through 9th/10th grade readers who like action, adventure, magic, and mystery.  Boys seemed to like it more than girls, although most girls did enjoy it.  Anyone who is familiar with, and likes Brandon Mull. Reluctant readers who need a fast pace to hold their interest.

Welcome to the Sweet Tooth Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe, where the confections are 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. Then the ice cream truck driver, Mr. Stott, arrives with a few enchanted sweets of his own. The danger unfolds as the four youngsters discover that the magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary 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...
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This book is one of my favorite MG books ever.  I read it a couple of years ago and thought it was brilliant.  I then read it to my children, and they were absolutely enthralled; begging for another chapter every night as they fought sleep to find out what was going to happen next. When I presented it to the 6th graders, they balked because of the cover; they quickly changed their minds when they read it (I had to challenge them by telling them that I would buy the book back from them if they didn't like it- not a single student requested their money back).   I gave it to my 15 year old babysitter and she loved it (she's usually a Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, Susane Colasanti fan), passing it about her circle of friends.

Initially, I thought this book was going to be very cutesy because of the cover.  It implies happy, smiling kids flying through the air over their town, surrounded by candy.  Well, you know what they say about judging a book by it's cover...  This book was not cutesy at all (which, in hindsight, I should have known, based on Mull's other books that it wouldn't be).  It was rather dark for a MG book.  It had dark magic, kidnappings, and mind-control, bringing a whole new meaning to the warning, "Never take candy from strangers.". 

The story was great and the world-building and character development phenomenal.  I could picture everything in my head, down to the last detail; I felt like I knew the characters and could empathize with their struggles.  The magical elements were creative and sinister.  The mystery was unpredictable right through to the very end and it never lags.

Readers of all ages will have a blast with this book.  It's a shame the cover is so deceiving because I know it gets passed up by the readers who it's targeted at because of it.  I actually think that this is Mull's best book to date.

My Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  I would say this is content-appropriate for just about any age, but as a whole, I would say advanced reading 2nd grade and up (ages 8+).  It can be scary at times (my twins were 5 when I read it to them and they were scared in a few places), but nothing over the top.  The reading level is pretty high (5.0 AR) and it comes in at a little over 400 pages, so younger readers will have to be pretty good readers.  It's targeted at kids age 10+ (5th grade and up).

1 comment:

  1. Every time I visit here I get another great suggestion for my 'reluctant' reader! Thanks!


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