FICTION

The Candy Caper

HarperCollins. (Trouble at Table 5: Bk. 1). Feb. 2020. 96p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780062953414.
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Gr 1-3–Molly deals with compulsive tendencies often associated with OCD or ASD, but refreshingly, she is not labeled or diagnosed. Her parents and close friends understand, accept, and affirm her. However, Molly has a problem. She spies a jar of Skittles on her principal’s desk, and she simply must know how many Skittles are in that jar—or she will never get the jar out of her head. Her friends Simon and Rosie understand, so together the trio hatch a delightfully creative plan that will allow Molly to count the Skittles. The normalization of compulsive tendencies is extremely well executed here. Molly’s voice is authentic and relatable, and the text is enhanced by lively, entertaining illustrations. Twelve small boxes at the end of each brief chapter are “filled in” as the narrative moves forward, providing structure and encouragement to readers wanting to track their progress. Yet some may feel that the book ends on an odd, unresolved note. Young readers often roll their eyes at overly didactic resolutions where adults finally prompt a protagonist to “do the right thing,” but Watson firmly rejects this trope. Molly secretly swaps the jar of Skittles from her principal’s desk with a different jar of Skittles, and her parents’ reaction to learning the truth is to help Molly eat the Skittles—a wryly humorous ending to take with a grain of salt.
VERDICT Hand to young readers who adore silliness, and those who deal with compulsive tendencies.

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