Recently, I finished reading The Candymakers, a 453-page realistic fiction book by Wendy Mass. As a New York Times Bestseller, The Candymakers is the first book in a two book series. Wendy Mass is an author of 22 other books, including A Mango-Shaped Space and the Willow Falls series. She is a New York Times Bestselling author, and has been nominated for 76 state book awards. She was awarded an ALA Schneider Family Award for her very first book, A Mango-Shaped Space. Something I learned about her was that she was never simply inspired to write, she wrote stories since she was a little girl. Click here for more facts on Wendy Mass.
Do you ever find books where you see the cover, and are like, “ WOW”? Not usually; at least not for me. However, when I was exploring our classroom library, I found the book The Candymakers, which jumped out at me the second that I saw it. I knew that I had to read it again (Yes, I had originally given up on the book the first time I read it– I didn’t understand the content). When I realized that it was about baking and eating candy, two things I love, I sat down and immediately feel in love with the book and the characters. Logan, a candymaker in training, Miles, a very interesting introvert, Daisy, a teenage spy, and Philip, a rich snob on the outside, but a nice violin playing kid on the inside all had these amazing lives, and more than anything I wish that I could be a teenage spy or live in a candy factory.
In the book The Candymakers, Logan really wants to make friends but he has never been able to before the competition. Now, he finally meets Philip, Miles, and Daisy, people who turn out to be his lifelong friends. While receiving a tour of the factory, Philip gets so annoyed by all of the overwhelming niceness that he turns the energy from positive to negative. Daisy wants to hide the fact that she is a spy, but she accidently reveals some secret information, and so the mission goes downhill from there. All four of them want to win, but all for very different reasons. Logan wants to win so that he can continue his family’s legacy. Philip wants to win because that’s who he pretends to be, but honestly, he really wants to win to prove his father that his life isn’t just worthless. Miles wants to win for the girl who drowned in the lake, which is a secret hidden in the book itself, and Daisy wants to win to succeed in her mission. However, when Philip learns that his father plans on taking over the company, it pressures the four very diverse individuals into working together to make the best candy yet.
This book reminded me of another book that is very similar. Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein, is a novel in the near future. It shows a world full of high technology, and kids all over their town write essays to be chosen, just like the characters did in The Candymakers. A lot like Philip, there is another kid named Charles Chillington, who will do anything to win. There was also Akimi Hughes, who Daisy is a lot like. They are both smart, strong, and bright kids, except only one of them is a spy. They are also both very outgoing people, and are both nice and leave good first impressions. Similarly, Miles fits with Miguel Fernandez, a smart library loving geek, a person who is a lot like Miles. However, I couldn’t find a character who was like Logan, probably because Logan was such an interesting character. He seems really outgoing, and has an amazing life, and a lot of people just aren’t that fortunate. He’s also been through a lot of life changing events, including getting burned and learning that his father’s factory was potentially going to break apart.
I was so surprised when I learned Daisy was a spy, and even more surprised when Philip wasn’t. Philip was always scribbling notes into a notepad, and DIDN’T EVEN LIKE CANDY. What kind of normal human being doesn’t like any candy at all whatsoever? I guess I can’t judge characters by what they appear to be like, it just appeared to me that he was very suspicious. However, Daisy seemed like she was this very outgoing, bright, and athletic girl. She was so smart, and she was so nice. She acted like a normal teen, and it just seemed so normal. However, I noticed something was suspicious when she was able to stretch the taffy no problem, it seemed slightly surprising, and I guess that it is something that a normal 12 year old can’t do.
If I were the author, I would have changed a few things. I think I would have made it so that Miles had an actual candy to bring to the contest. He wanted to win really badly, but he gave up everything for one of the other contestants to win. I think his idea to create a bee was actually really smart, and I believe he could have made it really well. I also would have more of a connection between Philip and the other workers with the truck incident when they were five. I think it would have lead to another level of depth in the book, and I think it would have made readers think a little more about the book. I think I would also add more about Daisy at the end, how her grandmother reacts to her giving up on her mission, and what everyone reacts to it. I don’t know about other readers, but I kind of want to learn more about what happens to the characters after the book.
“All rational thought flew from his mind as soon as he stepped inside the factory. The shafts of light from the glass ceiling threw gold in every direction. The walls, the floors, the ceilings-everything glittered and glowed. Miles didn’t know what to look at first(pg. 139).”
Like many other passages, this one shows the level of description that the author shows. Wendy Mass did this without using more than five describing words. It just makes you think about what the factory looks like, what it would be like to walk into a candy heaven for the first time. I also thought that her way of writing was very creative, and in my opinion very different compared to other authors. She shows so much of her skills and enthusiasm in her writing, and it makes these amazing books. I rate this book an eight out of ten.