Title: The Candymakers
Author: Wendy Mass
Series: The Candymakers, book 1
Major Themes: Candy, Relationships, Contests
Synopsis: Four children spend two days together developing new types of candy—but is the contest really the reason each of them is there, and what makes each of them the way they are?
We just spent almost two months reading The Candymakers aloud—two months because it is a very long book, at about 450 pages. At first, I was quite apprehensive about the value of this book. I’ll still say there are a number of things that I would like to see different, but there’s a lot of value to it, too.
There are five parts to The Candymakers. Each of the first four parts tells the same story over, over and over again, from the points of view of the four main characters. We see events through Logan’s eyes first. He is the Candymaker’s son, and has grown up in the factory. He appears to be a kind, loving boy but the others can’t understand how he got such terrible scars on his face, neck, and arms. Next, it’s Miles’s turn. Miles always carries around a backpack, frequently talks backward, and talks about the afterlife a lot. Daisy takes the stage for the third part. She appears to be a girly girl, perky and interested in everyone and everything. Philip is last, and no one particularly likes him. He seems to go out of his way to be rude and nasty—and why is he always writing in his notebook?
Each section describes the same two days, from four different perspectives. These four 12-year-olds have all entered the contest to create this year’s best new candy. They’re experimenting, and developing their candy at the Life is Sweet candy factory before they go to the big contest on the third day of the story. Each section ends with one of them coming across someone else in the Cocoa room, apparently attempting to steal the secret ingredient late at night. What is going on?
As each part of this story begins, you learn more about how things are not what they seem. What is the backstory of each of these children, and what made them the way they are? Is the candy contest really the reason they’re all there? Or is there some other motive?
This is a very good story to help children understand better why some people are the way they are. What caused Philip to be nasty? Why was Miles always talking about the afterlife? The Candymakers is a book that you probably won’t be able to put down once you start. My children were always unhappy when I stopped reading, and the one who had read it himself before had nearly read it through without stopping. There are a few things that don’t make sense though, like instantly noticing a different flavor in honey after the queen bee dies and within minutes of getting a new queen, the honey tastes good again.
WARNING: The word heck is used in chapter 1 of part 3. Quite a few times throughout the story, there is lying.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15