Treat yourself to THE CANDY MAFIA

The Stats

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 4
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company (September 1, 2020)
  • Language: English

Thank you to Peachtree Publishing Company for sending an ARC of THE CANDY MAFIA! Allegedly, it came in a box with candy, which is the most genius book marketing in human history. Unfortunately, my kids smelled the sugar through the packaging and devoured it.

Premise

12 y/ oNelle Faulkner is an aspiring private eye looking for her next (ok, her first) case, when preteen candy crime boss Eddie De Menthe hires her to help find a stolen teddy bear belonging to disgraced candy tycoon Mister Farnsworth. 

Nelle is quickly pulled into the organized crime underbelly of her semi-dystopian and vaguely British hometown, where candy is illegal and sweets are serious business. 

THE CANDY MAFIA is Lavie Tidhar’s debut middle grade novel. Apparently he’s written books for adults too. I’m sure they’re good, but I read at my emotional maturity level. 

The absurdism x 1920s noir detective vibe is everything, even for people who can take or leave mysteries. 

Loved

  • Nelle is a caring and empathetic girl playing hard-nosed gumshoe and it works. 
  • Easter eggs to the Maltese Falcon (and crazy 20s-noir-style similes) everywhere.
  • The child-run crime underworld centered around candy bootlegging and gambling on marbles games is a hilarious premise that more than delivers. 
  • You can’t miss the candy-themed names: gangsters Eddie de Menthe and Sweetcakes, Dignitary Edmonton St. Creme-Egge. 
  • There is a FEMALE crime boss. I don’t want to say we need more of these IRL, but… it’s a first and it works. 
  • Daniel Duncan’s illustrations are just brilliant: 
Nelle facing off with Sweetcakes’ gang. I’d say we need more female crime bosses, but… well, at least this one is fictional.

Caveat

  • Keep in mind the book is absurdist and meta-comical, but the bad guys are from the Candy Prohibition Bureau. Asensitive child who’s had a bad experience with police (let’s just say the antagonists don’t get their comeuppance) , could get scared. 
    • Hey, sorry Lavie. But what do you want? I am American. 

Diversity

  • It’s clear from names and Daniel Duncan’s illustrations that Nelle’s social circle has a moderate decent amount of ethnic diversity. But truly, love of candy/things adults tell you you can’t have is a universal human experience. 

Verdict

  • Definitely treat yourself to THE CANDY MAFIA. And perhaps some Farnsworth chocolate if you can keep the fuzz off your tail. 

THE CANDY MAFIA will be out September 1, 2020 from Peachtree.

I love Daniel Duncan’s noir illustrations with 1920s details.

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