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The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

Review

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

Don't be fooled --- THE WHIZZ POP CHOCOLATE SHOP isn't just a whimsical fantasy about candy. It's actually a spy novel chock-full of zany characters and some of the funniest animals you'll ever come across.

Based on the title, you might think THE WHIZZ POP CHOCOLATE SHOP is a fantasy about a magical candy store, perhaps with a droll proprietor doling out fanciful sweets a la Willy Wonka. But you'd be, as it turns out, almost entirely wrong. Kate Saunders's novel is a fantasy, sure, but it's also a wacky spy novel with a pretty tense kidnapping case at its heart.

"Saunders's novel is a clever send-up of the spy genre, crossed with a cozy British fantasy and featuring some of the funniest animal characters you'll ever meet. The vain, smart-talking Demerara is unforgettable, as is Spike, the smoking rat,  and Edwin, the ghost elephant."

Twins Oz (short for Oscar) and Lily Spoffard aren't sure what to think when their family inherits a ramshackle chocolate shop --- and the attached house --- from a distant relative. Their parents, who are expecting another baby, like the extra room. Oz and Lily like the house's secrets, which they sense as soon as they walk in...but they have no idea just how many secrets and how much bizarre history the house is hiding. Lily starts to get a sense of it when she becomes positive that the flowers on the wallpaper in her bedroom are laughing at her. And Oz starts to get a sense of it when he encounters a rat in the house --- smoking a cigarette.

But both Oz and Lily are entirely unprepared for the force of nature that is Demerara, the immortal cat with a penchant for glitter paint and nail polish who soon takes Oz and Lily in hand and enlists them for a top-secret mission. As Demerara explains, the kids' Great-Great Uncle Isadore, is on the verge of finding the long-lost chocolate molds that will enable him to create his own immortality spell. Isadore has a long history of being up to no good, and the kids --- together with the boy across the street, who's apparently a witch—are the only ones who can stop him.

Soon Demerara, who's a secret agent working for an even more top-secret branch of MI6 (the SMU: Secret Ministry of the Unexplained,) has introduced the kids to a world of spies and gadgets
that could give James Bond a run for his money. Accompanied by the aforementioned smoking rat (who actually comes in handy sometimes,) the team is on their way --- but when Oz is kidnapped by an Isadore bent on revenge, their whole mission is put in jeopardy.

Saunders's novel is a clever send-up of the spy genre, crossed with a cozy British fantasy and featuring some of the funniest animal characters you'll ever meet. The vain, smart-talking Demerara is unforgettable, as is Spike, the smoking rat,  and Edwin, the ghost elephant. But there's a serious undertone to all the zaniness, as Lily --- who is dyslexic and who always comes up short in comparisons with her genius brother Oz --- finds her own strength and courage. THE WHIZZ POP CHOCOLATE SHOP is a cozy but not-too-sweet fantasy that's perfect for fun read-alouds.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on March 18, 2013

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
by Kate Saunders

  • Publication Date: March 12, 2013
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0385743017
  • ISBN-13: 9780385743013