Everybody in Sugarland is overweight because there’s no food other than sweets. For decades, delicious Chocolate Clouds soared above Choco-Locoville, the hometown of ten-year-old Henry. They would melt in the intense summer sun and chocolate would drip from the sky. Henry’s family collected the drops and made a fortune, building a candy empire that controlled Sugarland’s food supply.
One morning, Henry wakes up to the shocking news that the Chocolate Clouds have disappeared. With the family's empire in jeopardy and Sugarland at risk of starvation, Henry now ventures beyond the scary Monster Mountains and embarks on a wild journey.
Along the way, he befriends magical creatures, learns about healthy food choices, and discovers that the Chocolate Clouds didn’t just disappear but were actually stolen. Now he must visit the creepy Barebone Island, where monsters are said to live …
Plot/Idea: Though it may seem simplistic, Remus’s plot carries a deeper meaning of self-worth and learning the value of friendship and family. It follows the 10-year-old protagonist, Henry, on his quest to return magical chocolate clouds that have been stolen from his village, Choco-Locoville, where the inhabitants eat only sugary sweets. Younger readers will be fascinated by the intricate setting Remus has crafted, and adult readers will appreciate the undercurrent of soul-searching that runs throughout the story.
Prose: Crisp and impactful writing graces the pages of this novel, and Remus excels at making tense moments believable and real. The worldbuilding is spot-on, and likely the biggest strength of the story, particularly when it is paired with the fantastical sketches scattered throughout the book.
Originality: The Chocolate Clouds is brimming with originality, from the story’s fantasy setting—separate kingdoms existing in the fanciful land of Foodtopia—to the mythical creatures and adventures that advance the plot.
Character Development/Execution: Remus’s story revolves around Henry, who often seems older than his age but is generally likable. Although he interacts with other characters who are briefly introduced, readers may wish for more in-depth character development to enrich the story’s condensed plot. However, Henry’s transformation is appealing, as are his insights on healthy living and self-respect.
Date Submitted: May 10, 2022
A whimsical food concept brought vividly to life. Younger readers will be thoroughly entertained.
A boy from a society where only sweets are eaten journeys to far-off lands of vegetable and fruit consumption in this illustrated middle-grade fantasy.
Ten-year-old Henry lives in Choco-Locoville, a town in Sugarland. Like all the inhabitants of Sugarland, Henry is overweight. Since his father’s death (brought on by obesity), Henry has tried to diet, but with only sweet things to eat, he finds it impossible. Henry is also lonely. His mother works long hours overseeing the family’s chocolate factory, and Henry’s only friend is his fat cat, Tiger.
Disaster strikes one day when Sugarland’s chocolate clouds are stolen. These are essential for the running of the chocolate factory, and, seeing an opportunity to recapture his mom’s attention, Henry resolves to bring them back. Along with Tiger, Henry strikes out for the Monster Mountains and, beyond these, the mythical lands of Veggington, Fruitopolis, and Barebone Island, which features dairy products.
In Veggington, Henry eats vegetables for the first time and makes a new friend—a carrot girl named Carrotina, who joins him on his quest. Henry’s journey helps him to lose weight, but even with Carrotina’s help, will he be able to find the missing chocolate clouds and break down the national boundaries between food groups?
Remus writes in the third person, past tense, from Henry’s point of view. The prose is a simple mix of narrative, dialogue, and description, enhanced throughout by the author’s partial and full-page illustrations. These pictures—textured black-and-white sketches of considerable intricacy—contribute greatly to Remus’ worldbuilding and to the depictions of Henry, Carrotina, Tiger, and others.
Henry is a likable protagonist, conscious of his own shortcomings but determined to overcome them. Carrotina is a particularly memorable character. She is kind and companionable but also acutely aware of being a sentient, anthropomorphized vegetable. Her perspective on life encapsulates the magical suspension of disbelief that underpins the four food-based lands of Foodtopia.
The story itself is sweet and nonthreatening, although Henry’s quest is not without peril. While adult readers may find the plot predictable, there are surprises on a page-by-page level and wonder aplenty for the target audience. The moral, likewise, is overt but not intrusive. Younger readers will be thoroughly entertained.
A GOLD MEDAL WINNER in the UK Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2021!
Charmingly written, sweetly illustrated and filled with a host of unforgettable magical characters – and CHOCOLATE! Highly recommended!
Review by The Wishing Shelf Award: What a delightful book this is. Not only is it superbly illustrated and full of over-the-top, magical characters, there's also a lot of chocolate in it! And I happen to love chocolate. In fact, I’d go as far as to say, apart from wee and poo, chocolate is the very best subject for a children’s books. And I think Roald Dahl would agree!
So, what's the plot? Well, in a nutshell, Henry (the hero of the story) is a chubby boy living in Sugarland – where, I mightadd, everybody is, well, a bit on the flabby side! When the chocolate clouds vanish from the sky, Henry embarks on a wild journey to discover what’s happened. What follows is a thrilling adventure for 9 – 12 year olds, full of magical twists, fantastical characters and a very scary island. There’s also a surprisingly strong ‘healthy eating’ message parents will love.I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.
The writing style is simple and always accessible, the story is cleverly plotted, and the pencilwork in the illustrations is outstanding. I think any child (or parent) looking for a fun-filled adventure will be very happy they picked this.I love it when I discover a new author I can recommend, and I very much look forward to seeing what Marc Remus has for us next...
22 Readers have judged the book. Here are the results and their comments:
Star Rating: 5 Stars
Number of Readers: 22
Writing Style: 10/10
Of the 22 readers:
22 would read another book by this author.
22 thought the cover was good or excellent.
22 felt it was easy to follow.
22 would recommend this book to another reader to try.
Of all the readers, 12 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting a story’.
Of all the readers, 6 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’.
Of all the readers, 4 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘writing style’.
22 felt the pacing was good or excellent.
22 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.
“Wow! This novel is so good. I loved the plot and how it kept surprising me. The characters were cool and interesting to get to know. I liked the cover as it made me want to read the book.” Boy, aged 12“
Barebone Island is the best setting in the story. The best character was Henry as he´s sort of brave and wants to save Sugarland. There´s also a good message in the story about how fat you will get if you chomp on too many chocolate bars. This is exciting and the artwork is amazing.” Girl, aged 12“
Thrilling fantasy adventure with lots of over-the-top fantasy characters and a gripping quest for the hero to go on. If you like well-written novels filled with fab characters and a twisting plot, you´ll like this.” Girl reader, aged 11
“I was so impressed by not only the story but also the way the book had been put together. 9 – 12 year olds will love it.” Primary school teacher, aged 55
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