Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase

The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase
by Wendy Mass
Recommended Ages: 12+

In the sequel to The Candymakers, four friends from diverse backgrounds, chaperoned by a teenage spy, go on a road trip to promote the musical candy bar they invented together in Book 1. Secretly, they are really searching for the secret ingredient without which their contest-winning recipe will be disqualified. But along the way, they find a lot more than that. They find, for example, lost family members, a barking cat, lots of shooting stars and a magical place that needs protection by just such a group of friends as they have become.

After briefly sampling the "same events told from four different points of view" effect that made up the best part of the original book, the sequel continues from the foursome's combined point of view. In addition to the wonderful world of candy, it further explores one kid's brilliant musical mind, another kid's fascination with maps, the talents and gadgets of two teenage spies, the strain of competition and the heartwarming and heartbreaking ties of family and friendship.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good book, though it didn't hold together as tightly as the first one. There seemed to be room at the end for a third installment, and I'd definitely read it. That says something, I think, about the quality of the characters and relationships developed in this book, earning the reader's trust and affection. Also, it's funny, quirky, magical, and full of delicious (on the mind's palate) candies and treats.

Wendy Mass is also the author of four "Twice Upon a Time" books, reimagining fairy tales and folklore; five "Willow Falls" books, starting with 11 Birthdays; six "Space Taxi" books co-authored with Michael Brawer, including one titled B.U.R.P. Strikes Back; four "Time Jumpers" books, including Dodging Dinosaurs; and a few other books. I think some characters from at least one of them, A Mango-shaped Space, find their way into this book.

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