The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

Goodreads: The Candymakers

Goodreads Summary: Four children have been chosen to compete in a national competition to find the tastiest confection in the country. Who will invent a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Lightning Chew?

Logan, the Candymaker’s son, who can detect the color of chocolate by touch alone?

Miles, the boy who is allergic to merry-go-rounds and the color pink?

Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy like it’s a feather?

Or Philip, the suit-and-tie wearing boy who’s always scribbling in a secret notebook?

This sweet, charming, and cleverly crafted story, told from each contestant’s perspective, is filled with mystery, friendship, and juicy revelations.

Review: The Candymakers is an interesting mix of the wondrous and the realistic.  Logan’s candy factory is essentially self-sufficient with its own special rooms for raising bees for honey and growing cocoa beans.  The temperature and weather controlled rooms full of flowers and tropical plants are awing, but are more grounded in science than some of the things found in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.    At times the whole effect just does not come off quite right, but Mass’s attempt is pretty fascinating to see unfold.

The book jacket (not the Goodreads summary) touts The Candymakers as a mystery and makes a point to instruct the reader to pay attention to what is said and what is not said.   But this is not too much of a mystery.  I found there was no point in straining to pick out what characters were omitting—because mainly they were omitting things they did not actually know.  One character would say Daisy went to the bathroom because she told the group that was what she was going to do.  In Daisy’s section, she announces quite openly that she lied and did not go the bathroom, and then reveals what she did instead.  There may be secrets kept from other characters, but not much is kept from the reader.  The person looking to sabotage the candy factory reveals their intentions themselves.

The children are, in my opinion, the main draw of the story.  They are incredibly diverse but have a great group dynamic and work well together as friends.  Each also has an interesting back story tinged with pain.  For this reason, they occasionally come across as unbelievable.  Mature children are one thing.  Mini-adults with cynical worldviews are another.  Mass seems to have been struggling with the line between making them children and making sure they were not too dumbed down.

The Candymakers was both whimsical and a little dark.  It was a fun read with a great setting.  Logan actually gets to live in the candy factory!  I was not captivated enough that I would purchase another book by the author, however.

Note: Other reviews have compared this book to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I found the stories to be incredibly different, with only the presence of a candy factory in common.

Published: October 5, 2010

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