What a terrific sequel! Confession: I loved The Candymakers very much when it came out and have gifted it, recommended it, bought extra copies for the library, but couldn’t quite remember the main story of it. No problem-my memory was easily refreshed in here and I’d go so far as to say that even if you hadn’t read the first one you’d be fine reading this (or reading this and then going back to read the first.) I was super pleased to find that it employed the same technique that I had loved in The Candymakers–beginning the story from one character’s point of view, getting to a moment and stopping, and then telling the same part of the story from another character, until all 4 characters have covered the same time and then the story continues with all in from that point. It’s very clever and well done and really established the distinct personalities of all four kids.
This sequel was loooooong, but very satisfying. It had plenty of Willy Wonka like candy descriptions, tons of super cool spy gadgets, a road trip, geocaching (which, since I like to do, I found very appealing), and a good mystery to solve.
And it also had something very fun for Mass readers–an appearance by Mia from A Mango Shaped Space, her first book, and the first one I read way back in the day and used to booktalk a lot. I often forget that that same author is the same author as the Willow Falls books, which are very popular in my library. In fact, when a character said she had synesthesia I thought “Oh how cool! I love reading about that! It’s just like in A Mango Shaped Space.” and then moments later realized “oh, of course. They are by the same author.” –as reinforced by a mention of a cat named Mango. I just loved that little detail in there. Later on there is also a reference to Willow Falls that I’m sure the 11 Birthdays fans will adore.
This is the sort of story where there are no coincidences and while some might say things work out too neatly, it was exactly the sort of thing I adore. Fans of the first book will love this.