‘Like a mini Miss Marple meets Maynards… this mouthful of mystery will leave every reader feeling like a child in a sweetshop; just craving to read more from Lavie!’
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Author: Lavie Tidhar (@lavietidhar)
Illustrator: Mark Beech (Website)
Publisher: Scholastic (@scholasticuk)
Page count: 304
Date of publication: 7th June 2018
Series status: N/A
Perfect for Year 4 & Year 5.
1. Confectionary 🧱🍫
2. Prohibition ❌
3. Detective 🕵️♀️
In a city where candy is a crime and biscuits are banned, Nelle Faulkner is a telve-year-old private detective looking for her next client.
So when a notorious candy gangster asks for her help, Nelle is on the case.
Swept into a secret world of sweet smugglers and chocolate crooks, can Nelle and her friends find a way to take the cake? Or will they come to a sticky end…
The first line(s):
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.
Review: A town knee-deep in a confectionary chaos, a missing teddy bear and an unsolved case that throws up more questions than answers… why wouldn’t you want to read this?
In Lavie’s first foray into writing for children, he thrusts the reader (especially for those younger readers) in to the middle of what will seem like the utter unimaginable; a city where chocolate and sweets are forbidden under a prohibition act, with sugar gangs roaming the streets and corrupt candy cops round every corner.
However, fear not for super-sleuth and private-eye Nelle Faulkner – committed to always doing the right thing – to step up and take on what develops as the most intriguing of cases… As she investigates several people in *confection* with the previously-mentioned stolen teddy bear, the case goes from what seems like returning a missing cuddly toy to its rightful owner to an assortment of antics and more than the odd spot of confectionary capers (‘bootlegging, extortion, corruption, wilful destruction of property, intimidation and attempted murder’) that you can’t help but feel like you have to bite into.
Roles often reverse as grownups start acting like children and children act more like grownups in this original, highly-enjoyable and tempting twist on what happens when the town suffers from the symptoms of sugar withdrawal.
Can Nelle track down the teddy bear?
Solve the ongoing feuds of the candy gang war?
Save the city’s finest chocolate factory?
Mark Beech’s joyful illustrations add tastes of humour, quirk and life to complement Lavie’s brilliant and charismatic characters; infused with an infectious influence of the collaboration between Dahl and Blake.
Like a mini Miss Marple meets Maynards… this mouthful of mystery will leave every reader feeling like a child in a sweetshop; just craving to read more from Lavie!
Today I give a warm welcome to author of Candy, Lavie Tidhar to The Reader Teacher as part of his Candy blog tour. Here, he shares with The Reader Teacher his exclusive guest post about the inspiration behind his debut novel for children…
My Inspiration for Candy
Candy draws on a whole bunch of sources. Scholastic have described it as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Bugsy Malone for 9+ readers”, and both of these certainly qualify as inspirations. Sometimes I like to explain Candy as what would have happened if at the end of Charlie the chocolate factory was shut down, Prohibition was declared, and Mr Wonka has gone missing.
But there is a huge amount of other inspirations that fed into – and snuck in! – the book. I grew up reading a lot of classic children’s books, anything from Tove Jansson’s Moomin books to Michael Ende’s Momo and The Neverending Story to Erich Kastner’s Emil and the Detectives… And detectives play a surprisingly important part in children’s books. There was Kalle Blomkvist in Astrid Lindgren’s books, of course, and Enid Blyton made a whole career out of the adventures of inquisitive kids running up against troublesome adults… And while I’m not sure I read any Nancy Drew growing up, I adore the 2007 movie! And then there was that annoying know-it-all Encyclopedia Brown, of course…
I love detective stories. I particularly love Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled adventures of sun-drenched California. Chandler reinvented and set the template for a new kind of detective story, one that was not purely concerned with solving some elaborate mystery, but rather with the society his detective operated in, and the lives of the people who lived it. It occurred to me that a hardboiled detective in a children’s book was not something one saw very often and, more importantly, it struck me as pretty funny. It seems to me there is a great similarity between being a child and being a detective – in both instances you are tasked with trying to solve the world. And the world, as both children and detectives know, is big and confusing and incomprehensible at times. It is the same with science fiction. A child, like an explorer, is learning an alien world. Somehow, I thought, it might be fun to join these two influences together.
Candy, with its world of banned sweets and its mean streets of Prohibition, is of course a world much inspired by numerous crime stories. I had a ridiculous amount of fun sneakily parodying any number of favourite movies, from The Godfather to the television series Justified (“We used to dig in the sandbox together”, says Nelle of the candy bootlegger Eddie de Menthe, bringing to mind Raylan’s famous assertion of his antagonist Boyd, which bookends the series, “We dug coal together”). When Nelle visits the Used Goods store, she finds any number of unidentifiable objects for sale, from a Brasher Doubloon (“Whatever that was”) to a statue of a black falcon. I got to name the Mayor Thornton (it was Raymond Chandler’s middle name), and map the streets of my town, from Sternwood Drive (The Big Sleep), to Leigh Brackett Road. Brackett was, of course, the screenwriter of both The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, beside being a science fiction writer of some renown.
In truth, it’s what I do with every book I write. I’m barley even conscious of doing it anymore. I like to say originality is stealing from people no one reads anymore, but really what I do is somehow take all these influences and very different sources and mix them up into a new thing, like some sort of cooking experiment that marries unusual ingredients together. You just have to hope it doesn’t hit you in the face like a cream pie at the end.
I like Candy. I like to cook, though I’m not much of a baker. I made chocolate chip cookies for the first time the other day. If the batter is the book, then perhaps the hidden references are the chocolate chips inside.
You can eat the book as it is, or you could hit a chocolate chip and get something extra out of it, but either way, I hope it tastes good.
Lavie Tidhar, author of Candy
Lavie Tidhar is an Israeli-born writer working across multiple genres. He has lived in the United Kingdom and South Africa for long periods of time, as well as Laos and Vanuatu. He is a multiple award winning writer, especially in the genres of fantasy and science-fiction. Candy is his first book for children.