Life Is Sweet and So’s This Book

From p. 31:

“Long minutes went by.  Had Daisy gotten lost?  To someone who wasn’t familiar with it, the factory could seem like a maze of hallways.  Logan was about to suggest looking for her, when Miles turned away from the window and said, ‘In the afterlife, no one has to go to the bathroom.'”

The Candymakers

Author:  Wendy Mass

There are lots of reasons to pick up a book, but at this hectic time of year, I need a good one.  School is starting, the state standardized high-stakes test is just around the corner, I have to switch out my sandals for close-toed shoes…but I was given a good reason to move The Candymakers to the top of my to-read pile.  One of my students bought a copy at the book fair, and has been telling me how great it is every other day for a week.  Not just any student, but one of those kind of mysterious students that it takes a while to figure out.  And one of the best ways I know to understand someone is to pay attention to what he or she reads.  I learned a few things about my mystery student, including that she has great taste in books!

So this is a book with four main-ish characters, and Mass separates the book into their different voices, telling the story of how they come together in a candy making contest.  Logan, Daisy, Miles, and Philip all have interesting reasons for competing, secret motivations, strange personal quirks, and one common thread–none really has any friends.  Their shared journey in this story brings them together in all sorts of ways, and is at turns funny and touching, but with plenty of action (lest you think it is all mushy-gushy emotional stuff).  I really enjoyed how the story was told from different viewpoints (it reminded me a bit of E.L. Konigsburg’s award-winning The View From Saturday), which can be tricky, but Mass brings the separate threads together smoothly.  I can’t wait to introduce this book to my class library, although I am somewhat worried.  Coming in around level 5.7ish is just right for many of my readers, but the book is over 400 pages, which is intimidating to lots of kids.  Mind you, the font is biggish, but no matter how often I explain such things, many kids just get psyched out by the size of a book.  I’m toying with this book as a read aloud, just because I love it, but the read aloud list is pretty crowded already.

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