Genre: Children’s book, Mystery
My Rating: 5/5 stars
About this book:
Simone leads a double life.
As a covert agent, she walks in the footprints of her spy mother, darting between the shadows. If she’s not sleuthing, she’s icing eclairs and dusting pastries in her father’s patisserie.
When a notorious thief returns to Paris, the patisserie is threatened, and Simone questions everything. She and her father must participate in the exclusive Chocolatiers’ Ball to redeem themselves and catch the thief. Simone’s concealed life is crumbling, the shop hangs in the balance . . . and now she needs a ball gown!
Life in a French patisserie may not be as sweet as she thought.
It’s amusing how despite being many writers’ inspiration, I have never read a children’s book set in France. But when it comes to this Simone Lafray and the Chocolatiers’ Ball, I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the premise of the book. Consider Spy Kids (the movie) set in France with a petite little unnoticeable girl being the best kid spy. Since the book is in first person narrative, I got to experience what the world was like for our protagonist Simone and let’s just say it was very exciting. Apart from the evident beauty of this book’s cover, it has so many elements that just make it a light-hearted fun read like the candy illustrations above every chapter and clumsy Simone.
Reading it as an adult, I found it more warming than exciting but I’m sure that for the age group that it is meant for, readers would not only like the character but also be thrilled by the story. It is the kind of book that can be narrated to a group of kids and capture their attention page after page. Usually, I have seen the trend wherein children’s books, the protagonists are often mature beyond their age and it kind of unnerves me since I would rather the children read about relatable characters. Yet, with this book, I enjoyed how wise Simone was and how she used her intellect to get out of situations. The book has many plot-twists to keep the reader engaged and entertained. Not going too much into the plot (since what would you need to read the book for, then?), I’d just say this was a fun book to read. And how could I forget to mention the essence of this book, something that all children adore – chocolate? Lots and lots of it.
What I liked about the book:
Simone’s character: There is a lot to be liked and I am sure she would be a favourite among younger readers. I personally liked her reading habit a lot because it felt quite relatable.
The writing: Writing children’s books is not only an art but a skill to be mastered and the author does it quite well.
Things to be considered and rethought:
The mystery element: As I said, I found this book to be a fun read but not really too mysterious. A bit more suspense-building would be good.
Overall: Would recommend.
Quotes that I liked:
“Most people would see them as old, stained books, but to me they are family albums, full of memories and history. These books and this store are perfect “as is.” To me, the store is family, the store is safety, and most important of all, the store is where I’m a normal 12-year-old.”