Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Kitty Sweet Tooth serves up movies and magic candy!

Kitty Sweet Tooth, by Abby Denson/Illustrated by Utomaru, (Apr. 2021, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250196774

Ages 6-10

Kitty Sweet Tooth is a cat who loves candy and movies, so when her Pop-Pop gives her the chance to realize her dream of running a combination restaurant and movie house, she is thrilled! With the help of magical candy makers, she’s off and running. But playing with magic is never easy, so when the creations start taking on lives of their own, Kitty and her viewers all get a little more than they bargained for! Manic, adorable, and just plain fun, Kitty Sweet Tooth is perfect graphic novel reading for younger readers who love a good, silly story. The artwork is bright and jumps off the page, enchanting readers with magical food like crepes that grow into waving towers, rainbow chips that give the snacker their own case of the stripes, or blooming tea and scones that grow into a veritable garden inside the theatre! Luckily for Kitty, her customers love it all! This is the first in a new series of adventures for intermediate readers. Back matter lets readers create their own candy-making magic with an illustrated recipe for rock candy, including step-by-step instructions, ingredients, and a suggestion to seek grownup help.



Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade

Blog Tour: Candy Mafia!

In a city where candy and sweets are outlawed, kids will do just about anything to keep that supply going. But a black market candy ring and a missing kid leads into a dirty – okay, maybe not dirty, just… smudgy – underworld that 12-year-old detective Nelle Faulkner is determined to delve into.

The Candy Mafia, by Lavie Tidhar/Illustrated by Daniel Duncan,
(Sept. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-197-3
Ages 8-12

 A little bit noir, a lotta bit comedy, Peachtree hit the nail on the head when they called it “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Bugsy Malone”. Black and white illustrations throughout will bring readers to the table, especially more visual readers that miss the more illustrated chapter books and chapter book readers who are looking for longer books. Way too much fun, The Candy Mafia is a good mystery to have on hand for your readers.

Peachtree always has your back, too: there’s an excerpt, an author Q&A, and a discussion guide, all free and downloadable on the publisher’s website.

(Photo by Kevin Nixon / SFX Magazine/TeamRock)

LAVIE TIDHAR is the author of many award-winning novels for adults, including Osama (2011), which won the 2012 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, besting novels by Stephen King and George R. R. Martin. His works cross many genres, combining detective and thriller modes with poetry, science fiction, historical and autobiographical material. He is also a books columnist for The Washington Post. He lives in England.

DANIEL DUNCAN is a freelance illustrator inspired by stories, films, old, photos, and sports. Highly commended by Macmillan UK for the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in 2013, he was also shortlisted for the 2014 AOI Awards for the Children’s Books New Talent Category. He lives in England.



Visit other stops on The Candy Mafia Blog Tour!

Monday (9/21): The Library Voice

Tuesday (9/22): Teachers Who Read

Wednesday (9/23): Mom Read It

Thursday (9/24): Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday (9/25): Librarian in Cute Shoes

Saturday (9/26): Beagles and Books

Posted in mythology, Preschool Reads

Book Review: Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes/Illus. by Sanjay Patel (Chronicle, 2013)

Recommended for ages 4-8


This adorable story puts a new spin on the Hindu myth that tells the story of how Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, came to help write the epic poem, The Mahabharata. Young Ganesha has a sweet tooth and particularly loves laddoos – a kind of jawbreaker candy – until one day, he breaks a tusk on one! What’s a young godling to do? He meets the poet, Vyasa, who offers a surprising way to make the best of the situation.

I can’t say enough about this book. The art is stunning. Sanjay Patel is an animator at Pixar Studios, and the look and feel of the overall story definitely has a fun quality to it that Pixar fans will appreciate and everyone will enjoy. The colors and Indian-influenced artwork are breathtaking. This is artwork I would hang in my kids’ room, it’s so beautiful. It’s colorful and exciting, and introduces children to Indian-influenced art, which many will likely never have seen before.


At the same time, the artwork is adorable. Children will adore Little Ganesha and his best friend Mouse and relate to them. What child wouldn’t want to sit and eat candy all day long? What child doesn’t believe he or she is invincible, as Ganesha does? When Ganesha breaks his tooth, he is worried about his appearance and becomes angry and frustrated, throwing his tusk at the moon. He loses his temper, like any other child would in a frustrating situation, and there is a friendly adult, in the person of Vyasa, to deflect Ganesha’s anger and channel it into something productive.

There are good lessons to be learned in this story, including making the best of a bad situation and how sharing is important, as illustrated between Ganesha, Mouse, and their other friends. I read the digital version of the book, but encourage adults to read the actual storybook, as the font is playful, round, and fun, attracting young readers’ eyes and directing them to the action and flow of the story. The artwork will keep little eyes busy – there is so much to see! – and the story lends itself to great post-storytime discussions about sharing, listening to your friends, and seeing the good in every situation.


Posted in Fantasy, Humor, Tween Reads

Book Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl (Bantam, 1977)

Recommended for ages 8-12 (and ageless)

This was one of my favorite books growing up, and reading it again all these years later, I find that I love it as much now as I did when I was 8. Having spent the last few years watching multiple viewings of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka), I ended up surprised on a few occasions when I realized that scenes from the movie – such as the Fizzy Lifting Drinks scene when Charlie and Grandpa have to belch their way down from certain doom – were not in the book after all! While the movie retained much of Roald Dahl’s dark comic humor, nothing beats the book, and Dahl’s wry observations on rude children and the parents who indulge them, and how the meek inherit… well, if not the earth, at least a lifetime’s supply of chocolate.

Charlie Bucket is starving – no, really, he is. He lives with his mother, father, and four sickly grandparents, who are so old and sick that they never get out of bed. Father has a menial job screwing the caps onto toothpaste tubes, and they family is very poor. They are so poor, all they can eat is cabbage soup, and Charlie refuses to take more than his share. Every day he walks past the famous chocolatier Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and lifts his nose, inhaling the delicious smells; the only time he gets to enjoy a Wonka bar is on his birthday.

It all changes when Willy Wonka announces a contest where five winners will be allowed to tour the chocolate factory – and Charlie is holding one of the Golden Tickets. Grandpa Joe, his elderly grandfather who retains the joy and wonder of youth, jumps out of bed and insists that he go with him, and they’re off. Charlie meets the four other winners – the gluttonous Augustus Gloop, spoiled brat Veruca Salt, TV addict Mike Teavee, and boorish Violet Beauregarde – and their overly indulgent parents at the gates of the factory, and when Willy Wonka’s gates open for the first time in years, the fun really begins. Who will make it through the factory tour?

Dahl’s writing weaves words into pictures that are enhanced by Joseph Schindelman’s black and white illustrations. From Willy Wonka’s mysterious origins to the Oompa Loompa’s cautionary songs, this book is Mr. Dahl’s morality play. It’s a great reminder of the golden rules as children enter into the middle grades: be polite. Don’t be a bully. Share. Don’t be a glutton or have bad manners. Modesty and a humble demeanor reap their own rewards. Reading Dahl is like Emily Post for kids, but with chocolate rivers and candy flowers.

Roald Dahl is a well-known classic children’s author. There is an inactive wiki that appeared to be the start of a comprehensive body of work  with 106 articles; there is a call to revive it on the home page. There is also a wonderful Roald Dahl website that is animated and features links to the Roald Dahl store, museum, and his children’s charity. The site features a “book chooser” that will match kids with a “splendiferous read” of his, a biography on the author, and a “Wonkalator” – a calculator game that asks kids to help Wonka with his latest magical formula.