Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

Kate Saunders
For ages 8 to 10
Random House, 2013   ISBN: 978-0385743013

A day ago Mr. Spoffard got a letter from a solicitor and he found out that he has inherited great-great-uncle Pierre’s house at 18 Skittle Street. Now Mr. and Mrs. Spoffard and their twin children, Lily and Oscar, are at the house looking it over. Great-great-uncle Pierre and his two brothers lived in the house many years ago and one of the downstairs rooms served as their workshop. The Spoffard brothers were “makers of fine chocolate,” and their creations were very popular until all three brothers were killed in freak tram accident in 1938.

   Before they enter the house, Lily meets a lovely large cat that is sitting on the pavement. She would love to have a cat but her parents are convinced that babies (a new one is on the way) and cats don’t mix. The strange thing is that Lily seems to be the only member of the family who can see the cat. Lily begins to wonder if the cat is a ghost. The Spoffards like the house so much that they decide to move in and sell their old house. Lily is delighted because she has always wanted to live in a haunted house.

   A few weeks later the Spoffards move into the house on Skittle Street. On the very first night Lily is visited by the invisible cat, the same cat she saw before and the same cat who appears in a portrait of great-great-uncle Pierre. The cat’s name is Demerara and she can talk. She is also immortal. Lily learns that great-great-uncle Pierre’s father was a chocolate maker and his mother was a witch. Great-great-uncle Pierre and his brothers, Isadore and Marcel, combined chocolate making with spell casting and created some truly extraordinary confections. Each of the brothers had a golden chocolate mold and a chocolate spell would only work if all three of the molds were used.

   One of Pierre’s concoctions made it possible for Demerara and a rat called Spike to speak. Isadore came up with a recipe for chocolate that made the eater immortal, and he tested it on Demerara and Spike to make sure it worked. He planned on selling the secret to the Nazis but he needed his brother’s two golden chocolate molds to make the chocolate. Knowing that his brothers would not agree to make anything for the Germans, Isadore arranged for his brothers to have a tram accident. What he did not plan on was that Marcel and Pierre hid their magic molds so that Isadore could not use them. Demerara has Pierre’s mold, but Marcel’s mold is still missing.

   Now, all these years later, Isadore is still alive (he ate the immortality chocolate) and he is eager to get his hands on his brother’s molds. The children learn that the British government has a secret department, the Secret Ministry of the Unexplained, and the leaders of this department need Lily and Oz’s help. They need the children to find Marcel’s mold before Isadore can get his hands on it.

   In this marvelously written book the author takes readers on a splendid adventure that is full of surprises. Talking animals, ghosts, witches, and magic are combined to give us a tale that is engaging and thoroughly entertaining.