Book length is often a deciding factor when choosing (or recommending) books for kids. Depending on the reader, a very long book can seem either intimidating or exhilarating. Even kiddos who typically love very long books might search out shorter stories, depending on their mood, whether it is for an upcoming school assignment, the genre or topic, what their best friend said yesterday, moon spots, or solar flares. (The last two might be a little obscure, but you know what I mean.) When this very “long” book came up on our list to read, I was concerned that my 9 year old daughter would be overwhelmed. I need not have worried – as usual, she handled it in stride, regardless of her mother’s unnecessary fretting. I originally posted this review in January 2014… Number 6 (I think?) of our Golden Sower nominees for middle grades was a fun (but very long) story. Four 12 year old kids (three boys and a girl) have secured a place in the annual candy making contest held by the candy makers' confectionery association, and meet each other for the first time at their host candy factory, Life Is Sweet. Of course, all is not what it seems, as the deeper, underlying motive of each child is (slowly) revealed.
My daughter really liked this book, and I agree that it was fun. The author builds her characters, revealing just a little bit at a time, like peeling away the layers of an onion. The fact that the story is about CANDY was a plus for her, too. Mass takes a few creative liberties, but they work with the story. There were several unanswered questions at the end of the book, which made for some nice discussion -- although some of them seemed so central to the story, it was disappointing to not have at least a clue about what really happened. And the book is long -- no real illustrations (save for the silhouettes of each kid), and 450+ pages. So far, this one falls toward the middle of nominees we have read so far.