Say it with Chocolate

hello 1We’ve reviewed a lot of interesting word products on this blog (see this calligraphy kit, these spelling straws, these clay words, this bbq brander, this DIY neon letter kit, and this vanishing paper!). But today’s blog post has to be the sweetest test yet. Because Katie and her crew tested a chocolate pen. That’s right. A CHOCOLATE PEN. Take it away, Katie!


Candy Craft’s Chocolate Pen retails for around $30 and the suggested age range is 6+, though the instructions specifically say adult supervision and participation is required. I fully support this recommendation and want to add a personal observation. Children ages 10 and under will definitely need adult assistance, whereas kids 10+ should be able to do most on their own with one exception (more on this later).

The Chocolate Pen kit has everything you need to “draw & mold colorful chocolately treats.” There is ½ pounds of confectionary candy in different color pouches (white, red, blue and brown); four clamps; pen tips and caps; three mold trays; five gift bags and twist ties; and the chocolate pen itself (two AA batteries are not included). If you want to write out a word or make your own drawing, you will need to have sheets of either wax or parchment paper handy.

A quick note for those who have food allergies: the confectionery candy contains milk and soy. Please consult the nutrition facts for the full list of ingredients.

After thoroughly washing and drying the various pieces of the pen tip and the treat mold trays, I got to work putting the chocolate pen together. There are a lot of steps to follow, but the instructions describing how to prepare the confectionary candy pouches were clear and well written with informative drawings. However, the instructions did not prepare me for the frustration of attaching the candy pouch to the pen tip.

It took every ounce of my finger/hand strength to properly secure the clamp around the pen tip, which I had inserted into the open melted candy pouch. You have to leave at least 1/8” of excess pouch extending beyond the clamp for a good seal, which makes sense. It would be a disaster to have confectionery candy squirting out of the pouch and into the interior of the chocolate pen. But boy oh boy, it was a real challenge to close the clamp. It was messy, it was aggravating, and it cast serious doubt in my mind about the ability of any child being able to do it on their own (as I alluded to earlier). 

Once I was able to finally lock the clamp, I continued following the preparation instructions until I was ready to start drawing with the chocolate pen. I carefully wrote “Hello” and “Yum” in cursive on a piece of parchment paper. While it was relatively easy to write with the pen, I discovered that candy would continue to ooze out of the pen tip well after I had stopped pushing down the power button. Needless to say, I was left with a big blob of excess candy at the end of my word.

I called upon my son to lend his writing hand and give the pen a try. He wrote “Hola” and had the same problem with excess candy continue to push out of the pen tip after releasing the button. We carefully transported our words and placed them into the freezer to harden. After impatiently waiting the recommended five minutes, we took a bite of our chocolate words. The results were deliciously fantastic! The candy is quite sweet and tasty!

Next up was trying the mold trays. The mold shapes presented an unexpected challenge, due largely in part to the pen continuing to discharge candy after you stop pushing the power button. I found I had varying levels of success. I managed to create two- or three-color candies using the larger molds, but the smaller molds were very difficult. Even just pushing the power button for just 5-10 seconds caused extra candy to fill the molds too full or didn’t allow for a second color to be added. Under important information on the instructions, there is a statement that reads “results will vary from product images depending on age and skill level.” After testing this product, particularly the mold trays, I completely agree with that statement.

The Chocolate Pen is fantastic in concept, but I feel it falls very short of my excited expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed eating my chocolate creations, but the frustration of trying to figure out the perfect amount of time to use the pen without the inevitable stream of extra candy made the process less than fun. The smaller mold shapes are hard to use, and sometimes the finished product didn’t easily pop out of the mold tray, as was the case for the little white music note!

Final ranking: 2 out of 5 stars

It appears the manufacturer made a significant update to this product sometime in 2020 and now offers an automatic load feature on the pen. The chocolate candy is warmed in a separate tray and you simply dip the pen into the color chocolate you want to use, load it and start creating. I’m glad they listened to their customers and made this much needed improvement. However, I’m quite curious there was any change to prevent the extra candy ooze when the pen is in use.

The BiblioFiles Presents: Shaun Tan

sean tan b & w_1

Just posted! A webcast and podcast with multiple award winning, and New York Times bestselling, author, illustrator, artist, and filmmaker, Shaun Tan.

For over two decades, Shaun Tan has created unique worlds with his books, graphic novels, and artistic projects like The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia, Rules of SummerLost & Found, The Bird King, The Singing Bones, Tales from the Inner City, and Cicada.

The cardinal points in Tan’s work are connection and disconnection, the natural world and the unnatural urbanized world. Tan deftly abolishes the boundaries between them, however, with his unrivaled imagination. Hybrid machine beasts, spires and towers, a glorious illuminated garden, an orca swimming above a grid of city lights…Tan presents these wonders while also exploring the essential connections between everything. How we connect to ourselves, how we connect to one another, how we connect with animals, how we connect with the environment. And how, at times, we fail to make these connections, or even damage them. Distinct, expansive, fanciful, foreboding, playful, powerful, beautiful, and thought-provoking, Tan infuses his pages and canvases with a vision unlike anyone else.

Tan’s career has included New York Times bestselling and multiple award-winning books, as well as a diversity of fantastic collaborative projects. He won an Academy Award for his short film The Lost Thing, and also received the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to children’s literature.

Follow this link to the BiblioFiles interview

The End

the endSpoiler-heavy free write anyone? All you need are old photos, pen, paper, and a moment to ponder how to tell a story – by only writing its ending! This exercise premiered at Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12.

At the program, we scattered a bunch of old newspaper and magazine photos on the tables (thanks library recycling program!) and instructed the kids to select an image, Then, they wrote the final paragraph of a story, with the selected image serving as the very last scene.

I also ask them to think about a few things before they got started: Who are your characters? What happened in the story? What’s the resolution of the story? How can you conclude the story without summarizing it? How does everything come down to this image?

It was a challenging prompt, but check out some of these seriously cool endings…


whale photo

Kate and Tristan turned around when they heard the huge SPLASH! Winston dove out of the water, splashing happily. Kate smiled “He looks happy here.” Tristan nodded and called out to Winston.

“Goodbye Winston! We’ll miss you!”

Winston dove down and disappeared into a patch of soft sea foam, creating another splash. Katie turned to Tristan “Well, he’s finally safe from Envetson and his henchmen now, all thanks to us.”

 


man and elephant photo

As I turned, Hannibal tooted as if to say I’ve been with you these last 50 years. I’ve been with you when you were at death’s door. I’m not going anywhere. “I’m going to miss you old friend.” I choked out. The great beast threw this head back and trumpeted so loudly, so deafeningly, I almost thought he was laughing. He then lifted me up on his back. I laughed. “Well then, one last ride.”

 


panda bear photoThe very last thing I could remember seeing was… a panda eating bamboo. And then my eyes refused to cooperate any longer. Blackness. I can only remember the crunch and the green. That’s it. Memories are weird like that, you can always remember the most bizarre parts. Even with my eyes closed, I can taste the dew on the nearby grass. I still feel the presence of a fluffy being right beside me, chomping away. Crackle. Snap. That’s all…

 

 


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