Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review: 'The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy' by Nikki Loftin

✰✰✰✰½ Everything in Lorelei Robinson’s life has changed recently, and not for the better. So when Lorelei and her annoying brother, Bryan, get accepted into the new charter school after their old school conveniently burned down, it’s like a dream come true. Things are great at first. Students can run in the hallways, text their friends, and eat special snacks during recess. A full service dining room featuring each student’s favorite dishes serves both breakfast and lunch. Additionally, there is candy galore.

But Lorelei is different from the other students. She resists the temptations of Splendid Academy along with her new friend, Andrew. As the largest boy in the school, Andrew knows all about food addiction and trigger foods. Together they resist being fattened up. However, Principal Trapp has other plans, and it seems that Lorelei is the principal’s special project. Being plagued by feelings of guilt and grief over her mother’s death, Lorelei wants to trust the principal. However, it’s not too soon before Lorelei and Andrew discover a chilling secret. It seems that things are not so sweet at Splendid Academy. Together Lorelei and Andrew must work as a team to save both themselves and their classmates from certain death.

The Bottom Line: Nikki Loftin’s debut novel is a winner. Both young readers and the young at heart will enjoy this modern twist on an old favorite, Hansel and Gretel. Like many fairy tales, there is an evil stepmother, a witch or two, and a lonely, good-hearted heroine. Lorelei is easy to identify with; her character is compassionate and sweet with real flaws.

This wickedly sweet confection is recommended for fans of magic, fantasy, and mystery. It’s a very quick read that is creepy and fun at the same time. Parents and teachers will appreciate the underlying themes of healthy eating, teamwork, and friendship. Highly recommended for kids in grades 4 – 7.

Details: The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin. Hardcover published by Razorbill in 2012. 304 p. ISBN: 978-1-59514-508-6

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