When it’s time for the annual candy making contest, Logan can’t wait to open the doors of the Life is Sweet candy factory to his fellow contestants. As the current candymaker’s son, he’s familiar with every wonder filled aspect of the factory, and is hoping to win the contest and prove himself. But of course, the other three contestants in Wendy Mass’s The Candymakers are hoping to win the contest too. Each of the contestants has a strange quirk, and as the story is told over again from each of their perspectives, it soon becomes obvious that not all of them are there just to make candy. Some things just don’t add up: Logan has mysterious scars, Daisy can lift more weight than most grown men, Miles speaks in his own language, and Philip is always dressed in a suit and jotting things down in a mysterious notebook. Then, of course, there is the night that they all catch each other trying to steal the factory’s secret ingredient.
The Candymakers is an engaging story that is one part mystery, and what part sweet and whimsical. Mass has created a cast of strong characters, from the four main children to the adults that surround them. Even though the story is re-told four times, it never gets old because each candymaker fills in the gaps of the previous candymakers’ points of view. Mass’ style allows readers to truly understand what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes, and the story of friendship that results from the layered stories is all the more moving for knowing the individual perspectives. Each narrator’s section opens with their cartoon silhouette in a frame, which adds to the mystery of the book since you cannot see their faces. This heartwarming mystery is sure to melt the hearts of readers and make them hunger for a piece of chocolate pizza. Recommended for grades 5 and up.