The Candy Shop Wars

The Candy Shop Wars
Author: Brandon Mull
My Recommended Age: 10 and up
Lexile 750L
Magical Fiction

Four fifth-grade friends, Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon, are befriended by Belinda White, the owner of a new candy shop in town. However, the grandmotherly Mrs. White is not an ordinary candy maker. Her confections have magical side effects. Her moon rocks make you weightless. The jawbreakers cause you to be unbreakable. Purposefully, she uses her alluring candy to involve the kids in crimes which will allow her to claim a so-called family artifact.  Unfortunately, Mrs. White is not the only magician in town in search of this artifact, and the kids never know who they can trust.

I am still not sure how I feel about this book.  I don't think that it is bad, but that it crosses some lines that need to be addressed...Let me explain, the cover of this book presents it as a fun light-hearted Peter Pan type book.  Unfortunately, it is pretty clear that the bad guys are far worse than Captain Hook.  In the first chapter,  John (an agency officer...for what agency we don't know) is equipped with straight-jackets, cross-bows, guns and other weapons and then proceeds to hunt down these three "bad guys".  Then we wisk off to the kids and their adventures with the seemingly sweet Mrs. White.  Well, Mrs. White is anything but sweet and offers her "magical candy" as rewards for tasks which the kids complete.  She also has the kids give their parents addicting magical fudge that causes them to "not see" what their kids are doing, or even remember that they have kids.  Even as I am writing this, I think dangerous drug lord...  She has them breaking and entering, stealing, and digging up graveyards.  Once the kids realize she is not the best influence, they have lost all hope of help from their parents.  They are quickly recruited by another wizard who has slightly better intentions, but immediately sends the kids off on illegal quests again.  
Mull, provides the reader with some great discussion questions in the back, but I wonder if these are discussions we even want to have.  Haven't we been saying to our kids for years, "If a stranger offers you candy, don't take it...and if a stranger offers you candy that makes you feel like you can do all sorts of magical things and all sorts of "out of body" experiences...DON"T TAKE IT!!!"  Plus, do we really need to say to our kids, "If somebody wants YOU to give ME something, that is addictive, unhealthy, and that will make me immune to you and life in general, DON"T GIVE IT TO ME!!!

It seems so obvious and yet so vague...

Again, my son read this and loved it.  He loved the action and magical candy.  As for me, I am unsure and would hope that if you are going to let your kids read it, that you will at least read the discussion questions at the end of the book, if not the whole book.

Happy Reading

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