About the Book:
Title: The Candy Mafia
Author: Lavie Tidhar
Illustrator: Daniel Duncan
Pub. Date: September 1, 2020
Beagles and Books is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Candy Mafia. Special thanks to Elyse Vincenty of Peachtree Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Meet 12 year old Nelle Faulkner, a private detective who works out of her mother’s garden shed. She lives in a city where candy is illegal thanks to the mayor.
No candy? Don’t fret. Kid candy gangs led by Eddie de Menthe, Waffles Mackenzie, and Mary “Sweetcakes” Ratchet are keeping the sweets available to the local public. But when a precious teddy bear goes missing, candy bootlegger Eddie enlists Nelle’s sleuthing skills to find it. Nelle wonders why would someone steal this teddy bear? Well, the fact that the label reads Farnsworth, the owner of the city’s chocolate factory may be a clue. Alas, the factory has been closed for three years since the great Prohibition Act banning chocolate and sweets. And Farnsworth has not been seen since.
During Nelle’s investigation, Eddie goes missing, her office is ransacked, and a black car is following her. In that black car are two detectives, Tidbeck and Webber, who claim they are investigating Eddie’s disappearance but can she trust them? As Nelle digs deeper, she uncovers the real reason why the Prohibition Act was passed. Will she be able to find Eddie, the teddy bear, and Farnsworth as well as expose the mayor?
Comical and intriguing, The Candy Mafia is a middle grade mystery that will keeps kids engaged and guessing. What makes the novel stand out is it written and illustrated in the style of classic film noir mysteries. The main character, Nelle, is the quintessential private eye. She is observant, persistent, and calls things as she sees them which is why I love her narration. Supporting characters especially the lively kid candy bootleggers keep the plot going with their quick-witted dialogue and their rivalry. The melancholy black and white illustrations definitely set the mood of the story, for a world without candy is pretty bleak. The artwork also supports the readers especially those transitioning to novels.
Since kids will probably not be familiar with film noir, I would suggest that teachers share The Candy Mafia for a First Chapter Friday to provide background or even better, read aloud to the whole class chapter by chapter. A discussion guide has been created to support rich conversation with students.
Praise for The Candy Mafia!
“Snappy dialogue… Food fights, an abandoned candy factory break-in, and more sweets-themed antics add to the fun and intrigue…. Combining chewing gum and gumshoes, this comical mystery begs to be read aloud.”
About the Author:
Lavie Tidhar is the World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama (2011), The Violent Century (2013), the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize-winning A Man Lies Dreaming (2014), and the Campbell Award-winning Central Station (2016), in addition to many other works and several other awards. He works across genres, combining detective and thriller modes with poetry, science fiction and historical and autobiographical material. This is his first children’s book. He lives in England. You can find him on Twitter @lavietidhar and Instagram @lavietidhar.
About the Illustrator:
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 creates most of his work in an old stable, now turned studio, on the outskirts of London. You can find him on Twitter @DanielDuncan and Instagram @dunks_illustration.