Welcome to the most magical house in London.
The family of eleven-year-old twins Oz and Lily have inherited it, together with the mysterious shop downstairs. Long ago, the shop’s famous chocolate-makers, who also happen to be Oz and Lily’s great uncles, were clever sorcerers. Now evil villians are hunting for the secret of their greatest recipe. The terrifying powers of this magic chocolate have the ability to destroy the world.
Soon, Oz and Lily are swept into a thrilling battle, helped by an invisible cat, a talking rat, and the ghost of an elephant. It’s up to them to stop the villians and keep the magical chocolate recipe out of harm’s way. Their family and the world depends on it.
A quirky, humorous fantasy-adventure for middle-grade (MG) readers, The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop offers eccentric supporting characters, a surprisingly unvillainous villain, and plenty of magical adventures.
The characters are wonderful. Oz is brilliant, and a talented violinist. His twin sister Lily struggles with dyslexia and a bit of anxiety (though it’s not identified as such.) Regardless of their differences, the twins are linked by both love and loyalty. A young neighbor becomes the third human member of their world-saving team and eventually a firm friend.
Demerara, the immortal, invisible cat, has all the arrogance and fastidiousness of a real cat; her comments and nose-in-the-air attitude had me chuckling throughout the book. It took me a little longer to warm up to the rat, Spike, whose speech is more down-to-earth (not to mention snarky), but I became pretty fond of him as I got to know him. And the chief villain, Oz and Lily’s great-uncle Isidore, starts out as a cookie-cutter evil genius but slowly becomes much more.
Oz and Lily’s adventures are every bit as wacky and humorous as you’d find in a Roald Dahl book or certain sections of the early Harry Potter books. In fact, with its mix of the magical and mundane and British setting, The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop will probably appeal to young Harry Potter fans. It’s even got a secret government agency that oversees everything to do with magic — think Ministry of Magic combined with James Bond’s MI6. All in all, The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop is a delightful book for younger MG readers, and a good choice for reading aloud.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Category: MG fantasy
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 12, 2013
Book source: public library
About the author:
Kate Saunders (born 1960) is an English author, actress, and journalist. The daughter of the early public relations advocate Basil Saunders and his journalist wife Betty (née Smith), Saunders has worked for newspapers and magazines in the UK, including The Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph, She, and Cosmopolitan.
She has also been a regular contributor to radio and television, with appearances on the Radio 4 programs Woman’s Hour, Start the Week, and Kaleidoscope. She was, with Sandi Toksvig, a guest on the first episode of the long-running news quiz program Have I Got News For You.
Saunders has also written multiple books for children and for adults. (Bio source: Goodreads)