#1314 – CANDY MAFIA by Lavie Tidhar & Daniel Duncan

 

 

THE CANDY MAFIA 
Written by Lavie Tidhar
Illustrated by Daniel Duncan
Peachtree Publishing — SEPT 2020
978-1-68263-197-3
256 Pages   Age 8—12

Genre:  Middle Grade Graphic Novel, Fiction
Themes: Conspiracy, Gangs, Mystery, Prohibition

 

Synopsis

All candy has been outlawed in the city, but that hadn’t stopped some children from indulging. So when infamous candy gangster Eddie de Menthe asks Nellie for help finding a missing teddy bear, she reluctantly agrees to take the case. But as soon as the teddy bear turns up, Eddie himself goes missing! A seemingly innocent investigation unravels into something more sinister, and Nellie and her friends quickly find themselves swept up in a shady underworld of sweets smugglers, back alley deals, and storefront firebombs. (from publisher)

Opening Sentences

“The sun was bright through my office window in the backyard of our house. I had a desk and two chairs (one for visitors), a bookcase, and a cabinet–everything a private detective’s office needs. I also had a box of chocolates in my desk drawer, half-empty or half-full, depending.”

Why I like The Candy Mafia

Imagine! No more Halloween candy, no Valentine’s Day hearts, no chocolate Easter bunnies, and no chocolate kisses when you need them most. Nelle, age twelve, and her friends have lived without candy the past three years, ever since the new mayor declared a candy prohibition, making sweets illegal. Nelle occupies her time by solving other kid’s mysteries. Eddie needs her help. Someone has stolen his teddy bear.

Eddie runs the Cookie Dough Boys, the largest candy smuggling gang in the city. Only one other gang comes close: Waffles, a spoiled rich-kid who deals in both candy and pastries. A smaller gang called the Sweetie Pies—headed by mean-spirited Sweetcakes—wants to take control of Bobby’s small candy club, where kids come to eat candy without fear of the law. But once Eddie’s teddy bear is found, Eddie goes missing.

More than the candy gangs are interested in the missing Eddie. Two detectives are looking for him as well, but they have a rotten smell about them. Nelle needs to find Eddie before anyone else, fearing what might happen if the detectives find him first. Can the super sleuth do it? If she can, this will be the biggest case in Nelle’s detecting history.

More than the candy gangs are interested in the missing Eddie. Two detectives are looking for him as well, but they have a rotten smell about them. Nelle needs to find Eddie before anyone else, fearing what might happen if the detectives find him first. Can the super sleuth do it? If she can, this will be the biggest case in Nelle’s detecting history.

The Candy Mafia reads like a super sleuth novel, with rough-edged gangsters, mafia bosses, and a true gumshoe. Kids will love The Candy Mafia. It is a fast read that hooks you from page one. Black and white images of key players, dressed as if in another era, give us a look at these fully developed and inherently funny characters. Nelle’s longer dialogue is reminiscent of detectives of old, while the city’s shadier characters speak in clipped dialogue held close to their vest. Yes, this prohibition is similar to the original alcohol-based prohibition. There is government corruption, questionable cops, and a city full of kids not ready to give up sugary treats, despite the law.

Kids who like mysteries, detective novels, historical fiction, and well-constructed stories with wonderful characters will love The Candy Mafia. The characters and the story tend to stick with readers after the story is completed. A few adults are also involved, but as with truly good children’s literature, kids run the show and rescue the adults. The Candy Mafia will not disappoint. This is a fun read, with great dialogue, characters that are well-developed down to the minor players.

Author Tidhar wrote a magnificent middle grade debut with The Candy Mafia. With such stories in his imagination, I hope more middle grade novels will follow.

Favorite Scene

Kids will get a feel for the real Prohibition and its speakeasies; illegal business were alcohol was sold in a cabaret setting. Bobby runs a speakeasy for candy indulgent kids. When Nelle enters, every kid at the long tables quickly hide the candy that only moments before they stuffed into their faces. But the moment Bobby clears Nelle, the candy comes back out and the stuffing of chocolate and other sugary goodies resumes. Speakeasies were often bombed, and so is Bobby’s.

Illustrations Rendered digitally.

To Learn More About the Author Lavie Tidhar:  https://lavietidhar.wordpress.com/

To Learn More About the Illustrator Daniel Duncan:  Publisher Profile

 

Available at Amazon:  The Candy Mafia

 

THE CANDY MAFIA. Text Copyright © 2018, 2020 by Lavie Tidhar. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Daniel Duncan. Published by Peachtree Publishing Co. Inc., Atlanta, GA.

First published in Great Britain in 2018 by Scholastic Ltd.

First United States edition published by Peachtree Publishing, 2020.

 

Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[486—word count-review only]

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