The Candymakers by Wendy Mass; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2010; 453 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The cover art, below, and the publication information is subject to change.  Expected release date: October 2010.

(This summary also appears in my KidsReads blog since this book is intended for 8-12 year olds.  A review is included here because I believe middle school readers could be interested in the book.)

  • Logan: heir to the Sweet’s candy factory who rarely leaves the factory campus.
  • Miles: neurotic, eccentric and allergic to everything from bees to the color pink.
  • Daisy: giggly girl with unsurpassed strength and a secret life.
  • Philip: uptight critic who constantly jots in a journal.

This unlikely quartet is thrown together for an annual candy making challenge for 36 12-year-olds. Groups of four contestants work for three days at one of nine candy factories perfecting their candy inventions to submit for judging.  Although the winning contestant is lavished with a cash prize, notoriety, and the production of their invention, this group finds they have a great deal in common–including a common enemy.  With so many secrets and surprises, will they become a team and save the Sweet’s candy factory?

The publisher indicates that this book is intended for 8-12 year old readers.  At 453 pages, I think most 8-10 year olds will be overwhelmed by the size.   With 12 year old protagonists, some middle school students could be turned off; but that’s a shame.*  Mass has crafted a story that builds on coincidence and serendipity.  Besides, the preponderance of her books are intended for middle school students, so why not add this one to the suggested reading list? For more information about Mass, her bibliography, and suggested activities (teacher resources), visit her website at

*(These comments are totally based on my experience in an elementary school library and with a middle school book club.)

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 5-8 (publisher recommends 3-7)

Cover Art: Yummo.  Candy, colorful candy and candymaking contraptions, and did I mention candy?  The colorful cover, with fun, candy cane inspired font, will garner attention.  Hopefully browsers will note the silhouettes and be intrigued by the mystery of the book.  However, this is the cover of an ARC (advance reading copy) and is subject to change between now and October!


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