The Candymakers by Wendy Mass (NY: Little, Brown, 2010).
Out of hundreds of entries, four contestants in eight regions will compete to win the Annual Candy Contest sponsored by the Confectionary Association. In Region Three, Logan Sweet would seem to have a special advantage as the son of the owner of the Life Is Sweet Candy Factory--he rarely even leaves the factory and can differentiate among types of chocolate by touch. The other three contestants who will come to the factory have their own stories--Miles is obsessed with the afterlife; Philip wears a suit and is laser-focused on winning, no matter what the cost; and cheerful Daisy has unusual strength. They have two days to learn everything they need to create their own confections, but it turns out there's more to this contest than candy.
Mass has crafted an engaging, lovely tale for middle grades with The Candymakers. Initially it appeared to be derivative of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (or its movie equivalent), but that's because it starts with Logan's perspective and then proceeds to the other contestants' perspectives, which changes the story completely. All of the contestants have something to hide--and something to learn. Friendships develop even as the children selectively reveal their motivations for entering the contest. The sweet descriptions will make readers' mouths water, and the mystery makes the pages fly. Highly recommended for ages 9 & up.
I read a lot, especially kid and young adult lit. This blog will review what I've been reading. I get most of my reading material from the library, plus I buy books at school book fairs and the usual stores. I look for freebies on Amazon for my Kindle, and I'm happy to review any ARCs or e-galleys I can get my hands on.