Who can tell a story? The Candymakers can!

August 25, 2010 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York; 2010.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The cover art, below, and the publication information is subject to change.  Expected release date: October 2010.

  • Logan: heir to the Sweet’s candy factory who rarely leaves the factory campus.
  • Miles: neurotic, eccentric and allergic to everything from bees to the color pink.
  • Daisy: giggly girl with unsurpassed strength and a secret life.
  • Philip: uptight critic who constantly jots in a journal.

This unlikely quartet is thrown together for an annual candy making challenge for 36 12-year-olds. Groups of four contestants work for three days at one of nine candy factories perfecting their candy inventions to submit for judging.  Although the winning contestant is lavished with a cash prize, notoriety, and the production of their invention, this group finds they have a great deal in common–including a common enemy.  With so many secrets and surprises, will they become a team and save the Sweet’s candy factory?

I found Mass’ storytelling near perfection in this five-part book. Each of the contestants has his or her own section to divulge their secrets and surprises.  Along the way, details are uncovered that ultimately reveal the unbelievable connection between the four.  Using a butterfly to punctuate the ties among the group works for the intended age group (ages 8-12, or grades 3-7) as a subtle way of highlighting events that the reader should remember further into the story. It reminded me of the “butterfly effect” often quoted in chaos theory discussions; although I haven’t really thought that one through as it pertains to this story–just a stream of consciousness observation.

Back to the story:  This is one good adventure with enough unexpected plot twists to keep an independent reader interested.  It does start fairly slowly but the groundwork had to be established before the other three stories could tie in with Logan’s view of events.  However, at 453 pages, I think this is a pretty hefty read for most 8-10 year olds. But with 12-year-old protagonists, it might be a hard sell to many middle schoolers.

How would I use this book in the library?  Well, for starters, I wonder if it’s “kosher” to include a sticker inside the front cover?  Or maybe a bookmark?  See, this book ties in perfectly (IMHO) with The Science Museum of Minnesota’s “Name that Candybar” online exhibit (http://www.thinkingfountain.org/c/crosssection/namethatbar.html).

I also constructed a book bundle around the “Sweet!” theme that included fiction and non-fiction books about chocolate and also included games, activities and a webliography.  This book fits in perfectly with that theme.

This could be included on a list of read alikes for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or even Ally Carter’s The Gallagher Girls series (for younger readers).

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a librarian's library of plans & resources for storytimes, programs & readers' advisory
Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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