Candyville is a child’s dream come true, complete with lollipop trees, a root beer river, and sugary confections as far as the eye can see. The reigning monarch, the Juicy Jelly Worm, lives in a cupcake castle. Unfortunately for the children of Candyville, their king is not nearly as sweet as the sugar that lines the walls of his estate. Each day the children must construct a new palace, only to watch the Juicy Jelly Worm greedily gobble up all their hard work, without allowing the kids even the tiniest of tastes.
A clever child devises a plan to turn the tables on the sugar-hoarding tyrant and bring candy to the masses. (Hint: the scheme involves vegetables, candy’s antithesis since the dawn of time.)
Author Carrie Snyder – whose books for adults include the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award finalist The Juliet Stories, and the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust shortlisted Girl Runner (both House of Anansi Press) – is clearly having fun with her debut children’s picture book. The Candy Conspiracy skips along at a merry pace, fuelled by silly-sounding words (“jujubed,” “snorty”), playful alliteration (“luscious fields of licorice,” “popsicle party”), and comical sidebars (“Warning: This page does not taste as good as it looks. Do not lick”).
The rich vocabulary provides veteran artist and author Claudia Dávila ample opportunity to create equally interesting scenes. Candyville is a bright, bold world where massive, multicoloured candy canes stretch to the sky and children dangle from ropes to affix giant jujubes atop the humongous Juicy Jelly Worm. Despite her appropriately surreal portrayal of the town, Dávila opts for a more realistic depiction of the children, providing readers with a relatable bridge to cross into this magical fantasyland.
A fun romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously, The Candy Conspiracy is a fitting dessert to any storytime.