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 (goodreads.com).
Early on we are introduced to Nate, who is new to the neighborhood and ends up befriending Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon right before school starts for the year. After we learn just a little about each character the story begins and becomes more interesting. The friends decide to check out the new candy shop in town owned by Mrs. White. The children soon find out that she is no ordinary candy maker and neither are her candies. In return for helping her with various jobs, the children receive some of these candies and soon find out the powers that they can bestow. I thought this was a pretty neat idea and something every child would love to read about! Finding out what each of these candies do and how they are able to use them was what made the story so fun!
Eventually, Mrs. White decides the children are ready for some more serious jobs, which include breaking into buildings and stealing things for her and even digging up graves! I thought that for a young children’s book some of these things shouldn’t have been included in the story. A child should never think that it is okay to break into a building and steal something let alone dig up a grave. I was at least grateful that the grave digging scene wasn’t at all grotesque. It pretty much just involved them digging up dirt and retrieving something from the skeleton, but it wasn’t at all too detailed. Once the jobs start becoming more dangerous and shady the children start to question Mrs. White’s motives. They spend quite a bit of time discussing whether or not the should continue to work with her. I was incredibly grateful that the children were so hesitant and not completely willing to do these jobs. It made the story feel more real because I believe most kids would begin to question these jobs as well.
The other thing that bothered me about the plot was that all the parents/adults were pretty much non-existent because they were “drugged” out on some super addictive fudge that Mrs. White told the children to distribute. The parents didn’t even know what their kids were up to.
It wasn’t until much later that we finally figure out what Mrs. White is really up to and why she needs children to do these strange jobs for her. I liked that I didn’t really know what her motive was because it made the story more interesting and mysterious.
So, the plot of the story is really fun, simple, entertaining, and easy to follow. The pacing of the story was perfect and held my attention rather well once past the first few chapters. I liked that it was mysterious and pretty much unpredictable and I loved how the story ended! It was so perfectly played out I had no idea! . Despite some of its plot flaws it is still a great and intriguing story!
I have to say that I didn’t really connect well with any of the characters, except for maybe Pigeon. I feel like we learn the most about him. The other characters are pretty similar especially Trevor and Nate who seem like the same person. I wish they could have had more distinct personalities and that we could have learned much more about them.
I thought that John Dart was the most intriguing character because he was mysterious and why he has to be careful when doing his job was all very interesting. Other than John I really didn’t like any of the characters, but I think that when children read the story they may be able to relate more to them because they will probably be in school at the time and face some of the same challenges.
I wish the characters could have been more interesting and developed more. Then I would have given this book five stars, but I can’t over look the lack of character development and interest.
I enjoyed the writing of the book quite a bit. It was more sophisticated for a children’s book than I would have thought. There are plenty of larger vocabulary words and the study-guide in the back of the book asks some great questions to help with critical thinking skills.
I absolutely loved Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series and it no where near compares with this book. Fablehaven is much better and far more interesting! However, this book was still good and I will probably read the squeal. I am sure it will interest many children and I know that I can’t wait for my son to be able to read it. Even though the recommended age is 8 I would use your own judgement if giving to your child due to some of the content.
My rating: 4/5 stars!
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