The winners of a candy-making contest track a mysterious but crucial ingredient.
Although it was Philip who officially won the contest (The Candymakers, 2010) with his combination instrument/chocolate bar, Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip are secretly a team. But when the Harmonicandy comes off the line, something’s terribly wrong: it’s delicious, but Logan—who has acute senses—knows it tastes different from how it tasted during the contest. Discovering that they’d inadvertently used an unsourceable and barely definable type of chocolate, the kids embark on a road trip, hoping to comprehend and locate that unique cocoa bean. Mass packs in so many cool details and discoveries—a fancy RV, maps, candy, spy work, geocaching, long-lost relatives, cameos from Every Soul a Star (2008), startling microclimates, bioluminescent water, and more—that they sometimes overflow their wrapping. When each protagonist narrates in turn, keeping secrets from the others, it’s scrumptiously tantalizing; later, when the narrative viewpoint includes everyone, it’s blander. There’s an enjoyable, quaint friendliness overall. The world of the book is a largely white one, aside from Miles and his family, who are Chinese-American. The genre dips a bit into hand-waving fantasy explanations (including some magical healing of disability), which, ironically, somewhat lessens the magical feeling that The Candymakers wove from puzzle pieces, perspectives, and coincidence.
An overlarge recipe, tasty but flawed. (Mystery. 8-12)