What if there were a place where you could get magical candy? Moon rocks that made you feel weightless. Jawbreakers that made you unbreakable. Or candy that gave animals temporary human intelligence and communication skills. (Imagine what your pet would say!) Four young friends, Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon, are befriended by Belinda White, the owner of a new candy shop on Main Street. However, the gray- haired, grandmotherly Mrs. White is not an ordinary candy maker. Her confections have magical side effects. Purposefully, she invites the kids on a special mission to retrieve a hidden talisman under Mt. Diablo Elementary School. However, Mrs. White is not the only magician in town in search of the ancient artifact rumored to be a fountain of youth. She is aware that Mr. Stott, the not-so-ordinary ice cream truck driver, has a few tricks of his own. (Summary and image from goodreads.com)
My Review: My kids love candy. All kids love candy. I've never, in living across two continents, found a kid who would turn down a piece of candy. And that's boring candy that doesn't even taste good! So what happens when four friends find a new candy store with the best candy they've ever tasted? And the owner likes them enough to let them earn special candy ... candy that can make them almost immune to gravity? They're still kids ... they actually do chores and get the candy! It's not until they're in a little too deep before they realize that what they're doing doesn't make them feel right. Perhaps it's the fact that they've addicted their parents and teachers to a fudge that has made them essentially forget about their kids. Perhaps it's the fact that they've committed a few more crimes than they'd care to admit. Or perhaps it's because the trusted old ice cream seller has told them that their candy friend is a witch trying to take over the world. He knows because he's a wizard who's come up against her before.
I'm a fan of Brandon Mull. I like his imagination. I like his characters - they're not perfect. But they're good kids at heart. They grow, they mess up, they learn. Most importantly, they are characters that my kids can not only identify with, they can look up to and emulate. (I love sneaking learning lessons into their leisure reading! Mwahaha!) This series is no different - Nate and his friends get hoodwinked by a cheerful, grandmotherly witch and under the justifications she offers them, they find themselves breaking laws, promises, and have to do some serious soul-searching. Oh, and then there's the whole matter of helping the good guys win and saving the world.
There is of course a little suspension of reality, but that's what books are for. I love it when books help my children expand their imaginations, test (in a good way) their moral boundaries, and provide some entertainment in the meantime. Are these books the next Chronicles of Narnia? No. They're not. But they're a fun series to grab on a road trip or for a day in bed.
My Rating: Four stars
For the Sensitive Reader: There is some intense magical battling, some juvenile deception, bullying, and a little insolent behavior. There are also some magical consequences that can possibly cause a nightmare or two.