Wendy Mass is the New York Times bestselling author of The Candymakers, the ALA Schneider Family Award winner A Mango-Shaped Space, Leap Day, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall, and Every Soul a Star. Wendy lives in New Jersey with her husband and their twins. Her website is www.wendymass.com.
Gr 4-8-Children running amok in a candy factory, immortalized by Roald Dahl, is one story line that bears repeating. At the Life Is Sweet factory, four 12-year-olds gather to create new goodies for the annual Confectionery Association Conference. Logan, the Candymaker's son, dreams of winning his family's respect. Miles's parents hope the experience will help him forget a tragic accident he couldn't prevent. Daisy is fascinated by the factory, but for what reason? And Philip scribbles in his secret notebook, determined to win at all costs. When the factory's secret ingredient is stolen, the children find a common purpose: to foil the plot by creating the best candy ever. The tidy conclusion has a few contrivances, but none that will bother children. Mass has crafted a solid mystery dipped in sweet candy-making details. Character development moves a lengthy story forward in smooth increments. As each child's story emerges, the mystery becomes one bit clearer, making this a real page-turner. The characters are intricate, flawed heroes with whom readers will identify. The book's subtle message of teamwork over greed and growth through friendship will resonate with readers and educators alike. A magical setting filled with conveyor belts, chocolate jungles, and beehives makes it clear what the youngsters are attempting to save. Give this mouthwatering confection to children who like Trenton Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society (Little, Brown, 2007) and other quirky mysteries.-Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.