The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

Holy cow did I love this book.  It was a treasure I received in the mail and when I saw it was about four children in a candy factory I thought it seemed like it might be good.  Well, turned out to be much better than good.  First of all, I think it’s hard to avoid any Willy Wonka comparisons when you’re talking about candy factories.  And while this does have wonderful descriptions of the different candy rooms, as well as trade secrets and competitors, I think you can reasonably say that the similarity stops there (and why wouldn’t you have those similarities? Because a story set in a candy factory without giving me plenty of descriptions of fantastic rooms making incredible made up candies would be lame-o.)

The basic premise of the story is that annually there is a national contest for 12 year olds to invent a new candy. Logan’s father and grandfather have both won it, and as Logan has grown up in a candy factory he feels that everyone expects him to win. Logan is a super nice kid, though he has grown up somewhat sheltered.  He is therefore both nervous and excited that part of the preparation for the contest is for candy factories to host contestants prior to the contest to receive instruction and have a place to make their confections.  Logan is very excited to meet the three other twelve year olds.

And here’s where the story suddenly goes up several notches in my esteem and grabs my attention even more.  For, after reading about that first day of the children all together you get to a somewhat climactic moment and turn the page and….the story starts again, but told from the point of view of another character.  And then again and again! What I found amazing was that this was not in any way tedious. Instead the author makes it seem like a whole different story and builds these layers of intrigue as  you find out more and more about the characters.

I’ve always said that story construction is what often impresses me or makes a story really stick with me, and this would certainly be one of those.  So, a well constructed and impressively built story, the amazingly fun setting of a candy factory (chocolate pizza for lunch!), a little bit of a mystery, a competition, and four very different but equally fascinating characters–I’d say that makes for a great read, wouldn’t you?

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