Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Marshmallow Skye (The Chocolate Box Girls #2) by: Cathy Cassidy

 Genre: Middle-grade fiction 

Published: September 1, 2011 by Puffin Books 

Pages: 304 

Rating: 4/5 stars 

CW: parental divorce, grief, use of slur to refer to Romani travelers 

Skye and her twin sister Summer have always been inseparable. However, while Summer has flourished in her talent for ballet, Skye has recently been feeling left out, and she struggles to fit in while her sister takes on new opportunities. While feeling isolated, Skye stumbles upon an old chest full of vintage treasures, and soon she begins to find a connection with an old ancestor. While Skye fills her head with stories of a past time, she begins to move further away from her sister, and the two girls must find a way to reconcile their differences despite wanting to forge their own paths. 

This is the second book in the Chocolate Box Girls series by Cathy Cassidy, which I really took an interest to after seeing it recommended on Booktube. I just love light-hearted middle-grade novels, they can be the most perfect form of escapism. Since this series is native to the UK, I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to get my hands on the rest of the books in the series. However, I was able to find them for a reasonable price on Amazon, and now I'll be able to enjoy the rest of the books, which I'm thrilled about. While Marshmallow Skye didn't completely win me over like the first book, it was still a good sequel and encouraged me to continue on with the series. 

I really appreciated how Cassidy gives Skye and Summer different interests despite them being twins. Being a twin myself, I think the common trope is to make twins mirrors of each other, both in looks and in personality. However, while Summer is extroverted and opinionated, Skye is quieter and more laid-back, and I think the dynamic between the two sisters was well developed. I could definitely relate to their fears of drifting apart, and I think Cassidy did a good job at capturing an age-appropriate representation of the struggles with finding your own interests against your best friend. 

I liked how Skye took up an interest in vintage things, as her interest was unique to her and I had a good time seeing how she processes the different treasures that she finds. Once again the book is set in Dorset, England, and Skye's fascination with history mixed with the setting blended well together. I think the atmosphere, like the first book, was overall very cozy and a big reason as to why I enjoy these books in the first place. They're just easy to get through, calming, and every book is filled with some significant descriptions of chocolate, as Skye's step father runs a chocolate business. 

Now something that I didn't really enjoy in this book is the overuse of the g-slur to refer to Romani travelers. A lot of Skye's fascination with history stems from this exoticized viewpoint of Romani's, which I think got a little bit out of hand. It went to the point where I could definitely see almost an objectification of Romani people, and I think Skye was very much given a white gaze, where she looked onto Romani people with a fascination that stems from exoticizing a group of people due to their skin colour. I completely understand that this book was written in the early 2010's, when the standards for acceptable language was different. Still today people are just starting to learn about the problems with the g-slur, as it is very commonly used in colloquial language to refer to Romani people. However, I do think Skye's interest in Romani people could have been handled better, and as a middle-grade book, it could have become a teaching moment for kids to learn about a culture unfamiliar to them. I still quite enjoyed the book, but these problems were striking enough that I did take notice. 

Overall, I think Marshmallow Skye delivered on giving the cozy, comforting tone that I expect out of The Chocolate Box Girls series. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. While I do think the book has some issues that can be chalked up to the time period it was published, it was a satisfying sequel. Just do be aware going into the book of its issues, as reading a book in 2022, we can always do better to point out issues. 

Have you read Marshmallow Skye? What did you think? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. I love books that have that cozy, calm feel.

  2. Referring to Travelling communities as g*psies is often not seen as a slur in the UK. Many Travelling communities actually ID using the term, as they do in some other parts of Europe. So, culturally, things are a bit different in terms of terminology - we actually have reality TV shows which use the term in the title. There are other words which are considered more of a slur, but I won't repeat those! I would always go to whatever an individual - or a particular Travelling group - want to be referred to as, and I use Travellers as the default.

    I'm not a Traveller, but, like most people do here (whether they want to admit it or not,) I do have a little (Irish) Traveller ancestry (way back in the 19th Century,) and given how many of my family are from Wales and the West, there's probably a few more Travellers in my family somewhere. (So. Many. people in the South of the UK are descended in some way from Travellers - they just don't like to think they are.) It's sadly still common for Travellers to be discriminated against here in a v. casual way.

    Many UK Travelling communities - including many Roma communities - are quite light-skinned, so it seems especially odd to focus on skin colour. In 2013, there was a bunch of problems throughout Europe with members of Travelling communities being accused of abducting their own blonde, blue-eyed, children because it was assumed they couldn't possibly be Traveller children *eye rolls*.

    1. Thank you for this very informative comment, Cee! I guess from a Canadian perspective, using the g**sy just makes me feel icky because we don't really say that word here. I'm not surrounded by a big Traveler population, so the general rule is that you just don't use it. However, there were reality shows that aired in North America in the early 2000's with the word in the title, but they're not really popular any more.

      I guess it just depends on where you are, and what Travelers say they're ok with you calling them. I don't really get a say in the matter, and I admittedly don't know a ton about Traveler culture as well. However, I do recognize when it seems as if certain characters of a group are being Othered, and that always sends alarm bells off for me. I think in North America there is a culture of exoticizing and sexualizing Travelers, so if I notice either of those in a book, it tends to not sit right with me.

      I really appreciated the lineage part of your comment. That is something new for me to learn! It's always best to learn more as opposed to just going off of outdated assumptions/stereotypes, which I think a lot of people here hold about Travelers.

    2. As far as the lineage goes, it's not something many people here know (and even less accept) - but due to social changes in the 19th Century, including laws that made Travelling as a lifestyle more difficult to maintain, many Travellers settled in towns, cities, and ports, and made their homes amongst the general, Non-Traveller, population. Due to the amount of people any individual's descended from (e.g. 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, doubling with every generation,) and the large families that many (though ofc not all,) Travelling communities had, it's statistically likely that many living in Wales and the West (and whose lineage is based here,) or other areas where Travellers are known to have settled, will have at least some Travelling ancestry. (I realise that this is an entirely nerdy and very niche set of knowledge - but that's me!)

    3. I appreciate the niche knowledge! Very cool, Cee!

  3. “Significant descriptions of chocolate” are definitely a draw for me when it comes to books :’) I don’t know if I mentioned this when you reviewed Cherry Crush, but I’ve only read the first book in the series and should really continue with the rest of them!
    Great review!!

    1. Haha, I'm the same way! I hope you do continue with the series. I'm looking forward to finishing it up as well.