The Great Sugar War

The Great Sugar War


Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
168 Pages
Reviewed on 02/14/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Benjamin Ellefson loves writing whimsical adventures for children of all ages.

Childhood was a magical time for him. Benjamin grew up in a neighborhood full of kids. Every day was filled with imagination, adventures, fantasy, and wonderful stories. In school he loved any project that let him explore his creativity.

When Benjamin was older, he traveled across the country to study story telling at the University of Southern California in their school of Cinema/Television. While in school, he had the amazing opportunity to work on several film productions and saw stories coming to life first hand.

Over several years after school, Benjamin had four beautiful daughters. When they were little, he spent all of his creative energy giving them the magical childhood that he had when he was small. There was nothing as exciting to Benjamin as watching their imaginations flourish as they explored the world.

Now that they are older, he wants to give that magic to all of the children of the world. Benjamin focuses his writing on modern fairy tales that are fun for kids and thought provoking for adults. Each adventure celebrates important values of self-reliance, preparedness, and diversity. He hopes with each book to spark imagination in each reader.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Great Sugar War is an adventure fantasy novel for children and preteens written by Benjamin Ellefson and illustrated by Kevin Cannon. Brandon wasn't crazy about school; he was able to do his assignments and get good grades without too much effort, but he'd much rather be outside playing with his friends. Today was no exception; he had been preoccupied watching a squirrel running through the grass outside the classroom window when Miss Carter called his name. As it was time for their history lesson, Miss Carter asked the class if anyone could tell her the cause of the Great Grayness. Those two words galvanized Brandon right out of his lethargy. His Grandpa Alvin had been instrumental in overcoming the snakes that ran the Color Factory, which had been the root cause of the situation. Miss Carter angrily interrupted him. She was tired of his fanciful imagination. Everyone knew that the goblins from beyond the Crimson Mountains caused the Great Grayness. When Brandon countered that the story of the triumph of the Crimson Guards over the goblin king was a lie told by the king, he got in big trouble. After all, you could go to prison for calling the king a liar, Miss Carter retorted. She sent him off to see the principal and said his parents would be notified to pick him up there. Brandon hated being sent to see the principal. He was a terrifying man who blustered and bullied. Brandon suddenly had an idea -- he'd go to Grandpa Alvin's house and get him to speak to Miss Carter. Surely she'd believe Grandpa Alvin. But when he got to his grandfather's house, no one answered the door.

What is truth? Why do kings and other leaders lie, and how is a child raised to tell the truth to comprehend the inconsistency between official pronouncements and reality? The Great Sugar War raises some troubling questions about politics, ethics and even the treatment of children in today's schools. I was aghast when the truant officer binds Brandon's wrists and ankles with nylon restraints, criminalizing, in effect, a child for truancy, but I've also seen accounts of far more egregious treatment of children in schools by the police officers who are now a common sight in some school systems. As to Brandon's confusion over the willing disbelief of his teacher and fellow students of the truth, the account of Colonel Droww to Brandon’s ancestor, Otto, exposes it rather clearly, if not entirely satisfactorily. Later on, when the great war between the Kingdom of Shapes and the Kingdom of Colors is revealed for the sham it truly was, Droww continues: “During a war, people are consumed by their own fear and anger. They follow anything their leaders tell them. War is not about defeating an enemy. War is about controlling your own people.” Heady stuff for a children's book, but sadly relevant in today's world.

Ethics aside, The Great Sugar War is a rousing action and adventure story that features Brandon's Great-Great-Grandfather Otto and the role he plays as Colonel Droww's assistant during The Great Sugar War. This is the second in Ellefson's original and compelling fantasy series, following his novel, The Land Without Color. The author gives enough background for the new reader to enjoy this book on its own, but I strongly recommend reading the first one as well. Both books are thoughtful, exciting and a lot of fun to read -- and they most eloquently warn against the dangers of eating sugar and junk food. The Great Sugar War is most highly recommended for children, preteens and those adults who still hunger for a bit of thought-provoking fantasy.

Marta Tandori

The Great Sugar War is a wonderfully imaginative chapter book by author Benjamin Ellefson, the second book in the Land Without Color series. The story of Benjamin and his ancestors is vividly brought to life, thanks to the talents of illustrator Kevin Cannon. It’s the perfect book for the young reader delving into a more advanced chapter book.

It all starts innocently enough. In class one day, Brandon’s teacher asks her students to tell her what caused the Great Grayness. Although Brandon hadn’t done the required reading, he feels confident that he knows the answer to her question and eagerly raises his hand to respond. When he’s chosen by his teacher, Brandon offers his response, his voice swelling in pride as he tells everyone the pivotal role his grandfather’s heroic efforts played in everything. Instead of being impressed by his answer, everyone laughs at him. To make matters worse, Brandon’s teacher is angry with him after he insists that he’s telling the truth and she sends him to the office. Rather than going to the office, Brandon sneaks out of school to his grandfather’s house to persuade him to go back to school with him and convince his teacher that he’s telling the truth. The only problem is that when Brandon gets to his grandfather’s house, Grandpa Alvin is nowhere to be found. What Brandon does find at his grandfather’s house is a hand-drawn map of the Kingdom of Color and in the center of it is the Color Factory, which had a pivotal role in the Great Grayness.

Charming and imaginative, The Great Sugar War is a wonderful adventure about Brandon’s great-great-grandfather Otto as a twelve-year-old boy and the pivotal role he played in helping his friend, General Droww, defeat the sugar soldiers during the great war between the Kingdom of Color and the Kingdom of Shapes. Young Otto is a particularly resourceful boy who wins over everyone he meets, from the hapless Droww and the stoic Aunt Nellie to the mighty lion and the twin girls, Gwendolyn and Sapphire. From the Red Berry Forest, Vegetable Valley and Grasshopper Fields to grasshoppers needing their sugar fix and nasty gnomes, Ellefson’s story is jam-packed full of imagination and adventure at every turn. However, The Great Sugar War has more than just a great adventure. It has heapin’ helpings of resourcefulness, from Otto’s quick thinking in the face of insurmountable odds, to Aunt Nellie’s seemingly endless supplies in her ever-present bag, to some important life lessons like the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and remaining true to your friends. The illustrations, in varying shades of grey, leap off the pages, seemingly charged with the same energy as the characters depicted in the story.

The Great Sugar War is the perfect tale of good versus evil with colorful characters sure to engage, and a cliffhanger at the end that will have young readers eagerly clamoring for the next installment in the Land Without Color series.

Gisela Dixon

The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson is a children’s fantasy novel and the second novel in the Land without Color series. The Great Sugar War brings alive a magical world of imagination, mystery, and adventure as once again we meet fantastical beasts and creatures. The Great Sugar War begins with Brandon, a young daydreamer, sitting in his classroom in the back as usual. However, when the subject in the classroom turns to The Color Factory, he speaks up as the events involve his past and family history. However, when he is not believed by his teacher and classmates, he decides to take matters into his own hands and prove the facts. Thus starts our adventure as he follows the trail. We then take a path down history into a war of the Army of Color and the Kingdom of Shapes meeting the fantastic sugar soldiers, the grasshoppers, the gnomes, and many more in the kingdom.

The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson is a fantasy novel and the characters are completely imaginary and out of this world. That being said, I thought the writing style made this book engrossing and entertaining even though some of the events and characters are so outside of real life. The illustrations are fun and colorful and add to the charm of the book. The thing I enjoyed most is the sheer range of imagination and outlandishness in this book that actually makes it very fun and creative. This is a great book for children and even young adults to read as it not only tells a thrilling and fun tale, but also conveys the message of hope under all circumstances, and the importance of courage and being true to oneself which is especially useful for young readers.

Melissa Tanaka

The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson is the second book in The Land Without Color series. While history dictates that the Great Grayness was caused by goblins beyond the Shadow Mountains, Brandon knows that the snakes drained the color from the land in order to take control over the people. After he discovers an old map of the Kingdom of Color at his grandfather’s home, Brandon is determined to find the Color Factory himself and prove that the story he knows is far from fiction. When Brandon finally finds the Color Factory, he also finds a book titled The Great Sugar War, which tells the story of his great-great-grandfather Otto and the real story of the great war between the Kingdom of Color and the Kingdom of Shapes.

Sugar soldiers, shape soldiers, giant grasshoppers, and a factory full of gnomes are only the beginning of the creatures and characters you find within the pages of The Great Sugar War. With beautiful illustrations that capture the adventure and excitement of the story, The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson is a fun and engaging book for readers of all ages! While this book is part of a series, it is readable as a standalone as it primarily serves as a prequel to the first book in the series, The Land Without Color, and will be continued in the next book, The Collapsing Kingdom. Ellefson is a master when it comes to world building, creating a complex universe of creativity and imagination that will have you hooked from beginning to end.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson is the second in a children’s sci-fi story, telling us what happened before The Land Without Color. Twelve-year-old Otto is lost at sea, alone, when he lands at a strange place. A place with no color, where everything is just gray. Otto soon gets caught up in a war between two kingdoms – Shapes and Color. To beat Shapes and finish the war, Otto has to be smarter than the War Inspectors, fight the Sugar Soldiers, and get away from the Gnome Factory, as well teaching the grasshoppers why it is so important to eat vegetables! Can Otto succeed or will gray color the land forever?

The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson is a lovely book for kids, well illustrated and a really good story. I didn’t read book 1, but I found this one easy to follow and kept up with the story. It isn’t just a story; it presents young readers with challenges that they can learn from, a good idea because it gets kids thinking and teaches them how to solve problems. The story flows well, the pictures help, and it has enough going on to keep a reader interested. It is a story that clearly comes from a very creative and imaginative mind and that shows in the telling of this tale. The characters and the plot were very well developed and I would highly recommend this to any young reader as a way of learning a few lessons in life early on, as well as enjoying a great tale.