The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid AcademyFeatured
But Lorelei and her new friend Andrew are pretty sure it's too good to be true. Together they uncover a sinister mystery, one with their teacher, the beautiful Ms. Morrigan, at the very center.
Then Andrew disappears. Lorelei has to save him, even if that means facing a past she'd like to forget – and taking on a teacher who's a real witch.
What Lorelei and Andrew discover chills their bones – and might even pick them clean!
A Must Read
Since I heard about this book ages ago, I have been SO excited for The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. I love middle grade - it is a growing love of mine. I keep finding more and more fantastic middle grade, which is awesome. I am happy to say that The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy did not disappoint in the least and I have found a new favorite.
With all the elements of a good fairy tale, Nikki Loftin has woven a tale that is filled with the trials of friendship and a chilling plotline. There is the perfect blend of the darker elements of a fairy tale with a unique sense of humor that is the icing on every corner of the book.
I love Lorelei - she is a fantastic protagonist. Clever and witty, Lorelei works together with Andrew to solve the mystery of Splendid Academy. I loved watching their friendship grow. Both Lorelei and Andrew aren't the typical students - Lorelei has issue with her writing, which has always set her behind in school, and Andrew has issues with his weight. I loved that Nikki Loftin chose to feature kids that were flawed in their own way, but didn't let it deter them from the final outcome.
The sweet filled plot of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy was a joy to read. I loved the atypical plot line - while there were the usual elements of a fairy tale, Nikki Loftin takes such a varied path which was a delight to read. It was completely new. Witches, unique mythology, and crafty characters make the perfect story to read.
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is a marvelous debut from Nikki Loftin. I already am eagerly anticipating her next release.
A Delicious Tale
Middle grade fiction is my new favorite thing. I still haven't read that much, but I have yet to be seriously disappointed by any of the ones I've picked up. The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is incredibly delightful, one of my favorites thus far. Full of dark humor and classic fairy tale plot elements, it's a story that delighted me from beginning to end, giving me a perverse desire to eat everything.
If you pay attention to my little reading widget, you might know that it took me weeks to read this despite its brevity. This was my iPod touch book, for reading while in lines. I read a lot of it while waiting at the DMV so I could get my license renewed. Thank goodness I had a delightful book to buoy me up during that harrowingly mind-numbing experience. While, you could easily devour this delicious book in one sitting, it also worked well as a book to nibble at and savor. I had no trouble picking it back up after a week of not reading, the story remaining fresh in my mind.
I will say that TSSoSA is not a book you should read if you want to be surprised. Maybe if I were a middle grader, I would feel differently, but, as a lover of fairy tales, I always knew where the plot was headed. Sometimes, though, I think that's a good thing. There's something comforting about that, like a big ol' bowl of mashed potatoes. This retelling of Hansel and Gretel (with a whole bunch of other tales mixed in) does some unique clever things, but reads very much like a classic fairy tale.
Nikki Loftin's writing is simply perfectly matched to the tale. She's witty and clever. The story is told in first person by Lorelei. Unlike a lot of children's books, she's not a prodigy, just a regular girl. Her voice rings pure and authentic, complete with childish snits, self-recrimination, and problem solving. She struggles with feelings of guilt over her mother's death and anger at her father's marriage to the obnoxious Molly.
The one thing I don't get about TSSoSA is Molly. She certainly fills the role of evil stepmother incredibly well, money-grubbing and child-hating. However, I fail to see why Molly would ever have married Lorelei's dad. She obviously has expensive tastes and begrudges any money spent on the kids, but she married a poor man. Why? It really doesn't matter from a plot perspective, but I found myself musing on that a lot.
When Splendid Academy pops up over night in their little town, Bryan and Lorelei desperately want to go, lured by the siren call of the coolest playground ever. Due to the convenient burning of the local school and the affordable nature of Splendid, they get to go. Not only that, but it turns out to be every child's dream, school days consisting solely of breakfast, lunch, snack times, and recesses. I think I'm getting old because instead of being even slightly envious, I kept worrying about how much their education would be set back if they survived Splendid and went back to public education.
Also, I loved Andrew. He's Lorelei's only friend, the fattest boy in school. I feel like there are rarely fat people in fiction, and they are usually figures of mockery. Not so, Andrew. He does get mocked of course, children being terrible, vicious creatures (something Loftin does not flinch away from depicting), but he is obviously one of the best and smartest in the school. Even better, Andrew knows why he's overweight and is working on it, which has given him incredible self-control to the degree that he figures out what's going on at Splendid, having had to train himself not to pig out on food.
TSSoSA is utterly charming. If you're looking for a wonderful fairy tale, look no further. Get yourself a big bag of M&Ms and start reading!
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy (A Room with Books review)
The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is a super cute, fun take on Hansel and Gretel.
First of all, Hansel and Gretel is my favorite fairytale so I had pretty high hopes for The Sinister Sweetness and Loftin didn’t disappoint. I love the idea of using school breakfast and lunch to fatten kids up. Not to mention the never-ending bowls of candy and two snacks a day. It’s so much more relevant than a house made out of cooky (I kid you not, that’s what it said in an old H&G version I once read) just randomly sitting there in the middle o the woods. I’d be all over a heaping plate of my mother-in-law’s vegetarian meatballs with mashed potatoes and gravy if it was just plopped in front of me with the encouragement to “eat, eat, eat!” Yeah, I’d like to think I’d be as plucky and brave as Lorelei, but I don’t think I could possibly resist all my favorite foods.
Though I loved the story over all, Lorelei’s refusal to think Principal Trapp could be bad drove me nuts. It got to the point where I actually started rolling my eyes at the story. I know there was the fact that her mom was gone so she was looking for another loving mom-like figure, but still.
The Nutshell: If you want a quick, fun, fairy-tale like middle grade, then The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy is for you. Loftin does a good modern take on Hansel and Gretel that’s definitely worth the read.
Lots of sinister fun
When Lorelei and her brother first see the playground for Splendid Academy they are immediately drawn to the school. Luck for them, their school burns down so they get to transfer to Splendid Academy. At this school there aren't really any rules, you just do whatever you feel like doing. There are also snacks...never-ending snacks. Lorelei becomes friends with Andrew, the only other person who thinks all the food is weird. Together they try and get to the bottom of Splendid Academy because it just seem too good to be true. What they find out is more sinister than they would have believed.
This was a lovely book. Almost a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel. Candy + Kids = good times. One part of the story is about the kids and the school and the deep, dark secrets it hides behind closed doors. The other part is Lorelei and the circumstances revolving around her mother's death. Lorelei says she responsible, but how can this young girl be the cause of her mother's death.
The guilt of Lorelei weighs heavy in this book. Just when she starts to feel good about something, it seems like the weight of her mother's death just pulls her back down. On top of this awful guilt, Lorelei also has to struggle not tho be lured into the school's captivating spell that seems to have everyone else in a trance. I appreciated this aspect of the book, it added a bit more meat to it beyond the fun storyline.
Andrew was a good guy, I really liked that he was Lorelei friend. They made a pretty good team. Together they find out a lot of sinister stuff about the school. Nikki Loftin did a good job with foreshadowing bits and dropping as small clues throughout the story. There were lots of little details that really made the story, but went beyond the regular storyline.
Another fun middle grade novel that you should add to your list. I think boys and girls will both love this story about school being a bit more menacing than it first appears.
"When my mom was alive, she read me stories every night."
"'I think you're a witch.' Only I didn't say witch. I used, as my kindergarten teacher would have said, a rhyming word."