Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mulling Over Brandon Mull

by Julie Coulter Bellon

My 10 year old son and I finished our Summer Reading Book Club this week, ending off with Brandon Mull’s Candy Shop Wars. It’s a story about a group of four friends who discover that “magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary, hidden treasure---one that could be used for great evil if it fell into the wrong hands.” Of course the children try to find the treasure first and come across several very dangerous situations and even more strange people. But the most fantastical of all is when they meet Mrs. White, the owner of a candy shop who introduces them to different sorts of candy that can make them weightless, unbreakable, change shape, and electrify people to name a few. But too much candy is never good for you . . .

In addition to the fantasy stuff, the kids also have to deal with bullies, boring teachers, and parental rules, which I liked, since it was quite realistic. I liked how the author had four different sorts of kids---the new kid in school, the smart kid, the girl who can hold her own, and the semi-popular kid. There was someone everyone could relate to. I also thought there was plenty for parents and kids to discuss after reading the book besides which candy would you want to try. For instance, my son and I talked about how you can’t judge someone just on their outside appearances. Sometimes people who seem nice and caring aren’t really, and sometimes people who seem bad really are, but you have to be careful because sometimes they aren’t. We also talked about how the parents reacted to the children after they’d eaten the fudge and how the kids really did miss the parental guidance after a while. I remember reading some reviews a while back and one reader had mentioned that they didn’t care for the way the parents were practically drugged and thought that the book somehow equated drugs to candy. I didn’t get that impression myself, and I thought the author did a good job of showing how bad and addictive something can be, not only for yourself, but for those around you as well. It was some good mother/son discussion anyway.

I was very interested to see my son’s reaction to the book and he loved it. He saw himself in Nate (they share the same name so he thought that was cool, too!) and was especially impressed with Nate’s quick thinking. His favorite part was how Nate used the Clean Slate candy and how much he cared about his friends. His least favorite part was when the kids break into the Candy Shop. It was a little too suspenseful for him and gave him chills. But he gave the book two thumbs up and I did, too.

Coincidentally, Brandon Mull is making an appearance at my local library next week. Since my son and I are two of his newest fans, we plan on going, and want to see if he will sign our book for us. It would definitely be the perfect ending to an especially memorable and really fun Bellon Summer Book Club.


At 9/11/2008 5:08 PM, Blogger Just_Me said...

It sounds interesting but a little over my 6-year olds head. I'll keep it in mind for future reading :0)

At 9/13/2008 10:39 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

A nice heads up. I'd seen the book in a list and had wondered about it, thanks.


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