Four children simultaneously solve a mystery and learn about teamwork in this sweet, chocolate-y mystery.
The Candymakers by Wendy Mass. Little, Brown, 2010. 480 pages.
Reading Level: Middle grades, ages 10-12
Recommended For: Mystery lovers, ages 8-12 (especially voracious readers)
Well, if you enjoy life while you have it, then it doesn’t matter how long you have it for. No one knows how long they get to live. It’s like a deal you make when you’re born, you know, to accept what happens to you. ~Logan
Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip are four lucky contestants competing in the annual New Candy Competition sponsored by the Confectionary Association. They are the four who will be using the Life is Sweet candy factory as their base. If one of them wins, Life is Sweet will be making the winning candy! But wait, it’s not that simple. Clearly, the four contestants are hiding something from each other. Is one a spy? Did one try to steal a key ingredient from the factory? What is the previous connection between them? Will one of them win the competition? What is the secret ingredient at Life is Sweet?
All these questions and more are answered as the novel unfolds. Told by the four children in turn, the reader sees events through alternating perspectives and learns all the pieces to the puzzle–even though those pieces are sometimes hard to recognize. In the end, the four children have to overcome their doubts and trust each other in order to even compete. There’s a bit of emphasis on destiny or fate, but that easily leads into discussions of God’s sovereignty as well! The novel is satisfying, a little crunchy, and coated with a sweet (but not too sweet) candy coating. An fun choice for exploring friendships, getting along with people who are different from you, and solving a mystery to boot.
Cautions: Worldview (mentions of the “afterlife” and such)
Overall Rating: 4
Worldview Rating: 3.75
Artistic Rating: 4.25