“The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop” by Kate Saunders; Delacorte Press, $16.99.

A talking cat, a rat who likes to smoke cigarettes, chocolate with magic properties, a special British spy agency that investigates magic occurrences and a plot to take over the world are all mixed together in this entertaining book from a British author.

The Spoffard family – 11-year-old twins Oz and Lily, their parents plus a baby on the way – has inherited a house on Skittle Street in London over what was once the family chocolate shop run by triplets Pierre, Marcel and evil Isadore. (Isadore arranged the fatal 1938 tram accident that sent both Pierre and Marcel and other passengers to a watery grave in the River Thames.) With their parents blissfully unaware of what’s really going on, Oz and Lily and a neighbor boy are recruited by the spy agency to try to recover a missing gold chocolate mold belonging to the triplets so Isadore can’t sell his secret chocolate recipe for immortality to crooks who want to destroy the world. But a scuba diving expedition in the River Thames goes terribly wrong and one of the twins ends up kidnapped. Now what?

Saunders creates many nifty settings including a hideout in an abandoned subway stop. Her book is often funny and exciting but it has its heart-filled moments too. Other books by this author: “Beswitched,” “Magicalamity.”

– Jean Westmoore


The Erie County Fair is inviting children ages 8 to 10 to apply to be chosen as a “camper” at Fair Camp in August. Campers and a parent will sleep in the barns, help take care of the animals, learn more about the food at the fair and ride in the parade. To obtain an application, click on the Fair Camp logo at or email or call 649-3900, Ext. 6407. Applications are due May 1.


The Underground Railroad wasn’t a real railroad. It was a system that allowed escaping slaves from the South to travel to the North to be free, especially during the 1850s and ’60s. The slaves followed routes called “lines.” People who helped the slaves along the lines were called “conductors.” Houses along the way where slaves hid were “stations.” The slaves themselves were called “packages.”

Time for Kids: Big Book of Why