Monday, August 30, 2010
Book Review Monday! "The Candymakers" by Wendy Mass
It's book review time! I received an advanced reading copy of "The Candymakers" by Wendy Mass. What this means is, the book still has some errors that need correcting. Having been a proofreader, I find it jarring to read advance copies because I just want to get out my red pencil and mark it up. In this case, it took me a full five minutes to get past the first page because my eye kept focusing on "Confectionary." Ahhh! It's supposed to be spelled with an "e." Confectionery. It was like I was trapped in some OCD spelling bee. How could they get this word wrong? It kept appearing over and over. Every time it came up, I had to force myself to move on. But that's neither here nor there, really.
The book starts off with a letter to four children who have been accepted to compete in a candy contest. The next page brings us an "article" from a newspaper about some shocking news that a local candy factory will be closing down. This was sounding awfully familiar. Kids, a candy factory, the future ... it was just a wee bit too close to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" for me. I was starting this book with a bad attitude.
I'm happy to say, however, that things turned around quickly. I feared the worst: that this would be some sort of Willy Wonka wannabe, but in fact, it's quite different. The book deals with some majorly heavy themes: death, guilt, disabilities, all in the context of a candy mystery. It's aimed for ages 8-12, and I think I would have really loved this book at that age. Heck, I enjoyed it now. I liked the characters, the story grabbed me and it was a fun read.
I'd be interested to hear how the author went about her research, because clearly she knows her stuff. She goes into detail about candy-making techniques (panning, enrobing, tempering) and ingredients. The candies have fun names (a la Harry Potter), like High-Jumping Jelly Beans, Oozing Crunchorama and Neon Yellow Lightning Chew. The candy details add a mouth-watering, believable tone to the book, and the rather intense sub-story makes for an edge-of-your-seat mystery.
"The Candymakers" is set to be published in October. Let's just hope they get the spelling of "confectionery" right before then.