25 July 2011

25 July, 2011–Princess Candy: Tales of a Sugar Hero

Princess Candy: Tales of a Sugar Hero
Written by Michael Dahl & Scott Nickel; Illustrated by Jeff Crowther
Stone Arch Books, 2011
tales of a sugar hero
Halo Nightly is like any other 11 year old – her grandma drives a taxi, she’s starting to notice boys, she’s even got a nemesis, at least as far as 11 year olds go. She’s also got a secret – on her 11th birthday, she received a gift from her Aunt Pandora, who has allegedly passed.
Opening the package, Halo finds jars of candies and a note from her Aunt, stating that these are special candies, and must be used wisely. Examining the jars, Halo discovers that each jar is labeled with the Spanish name of an element (i.e. agua, fuego, aire, etc.). Always the inquisitive type, Halo eats a candy from the jar labeled “fuego”, commenting that “Fuego means ‘fire’”. Immediately, she reacts as if she had just eaten a super hot cinnamon candy, and promptly belches fire.
Halo discovers that each of the candies will grant her that elemental power for a limited amount of time, and thus begins the adventures of Princess Candy: A Sugar Hero.
The book contains four stories in it:

- Sugar Hero: Halo learns about her powers, and discovers why and how her nemesis is always doing so well in class.

- The Marshmallow Mermaid: Marshmallows are disappearing at an alarming rate from the school, not to mention the star of the swim team (whom Halo likes) as well as the school nurse! It’s up to Halo to figure out why an angry mermaid has invaded the school.

- The Green Queen of Mean: Halo’s partner is hiding a big secret, one that could potentially destroy civilization in Nightly City! Can Halo show both Flora and Doozie that sometimes it’s better to realize the good that can come out of something, rather than the bad that caused it in the first place?

- The Evil Echo: Halo’s faced off against some tough opponents, but how is she going to be able to defeat an evil version of herself, especially when she’s denied access to her candy?

While super hero genres have seemingly examined every creation story out there (where the hero gets their powers), Halo’s story is a refreshing and exciting new take on the traditional tale. The villains are edgy enough to generate interest in young readers, but not scary enough to cause nightmares, and Halo is a bright, street-smart girl who  makes a great role-model for that age range.

Final Thoughts
Stone Arch has another winner on its hands. Reading through the book, it’s obvious that both Dahl and Nickel know their target audience. The stories are paced just right, they never get preachy (except maybe the bit with the nurse, which I thought was brilliant), and they are never condescending.
Crowther’s artwork fits the story perfectly as well. Never to realistic nor too cartoony, the visuals flow together with the story in such a way that makes it so much fun to read.
This is definitely one that should be picked up and prominently displayed in the children’s section of the library.

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