Great Illustrated Books

The Candy Smash

By Jacqueline Davies

Houghton Mifflin, 2013
Pages : 232
Suggested Ages: 8 and Up
ISBN: 9780544022089

What’s fourth grade all about?  Friendships, secrets, classroom drama, and the start of figuring out who you are.  And, when it’s close to Valentine’s Day, fourth grade is about first romance. On top of that, Mrs. Overton, Jessie and Evan Treski’s teacher, has chosen this time of year for her poetry unit, and the kids are all reading and writing poems about love.  Oh – one more thing – candy hearts with personal messages – are showing up on the kids’ desks. Most of the messages are simple appreciations of classmates’ strengths: Ryan’s heart says “slam duck;” Tessa has a “nice smile;” and Nina is a “spelling champ.”  But Evan’s message is different.  His hearts say “be mine.”  Who is sending the hearts?

Jessie decides to get to the bottom of this. Her strategy is to use the class newspaper and do some serious investigative reporting.  Once she starts digging, she makes discoveries, and she prints them, not thinking about the consequences.  Her brother Evan convinces her not to distribute the issue with the big reveal, but somehow one copy gets into somebody’s hands. As a result, Megan, Jessie’s friend, is embarrassed when she is named the source of the candy-hearts.

Chapters alternate between Jessie’s new dedication to journalism and Evan’s discovery of his own passion for poetry. Jacqueline Davies takes full advantage of both, giving readers lots to learn and think about in both fields – from the difference between investigating and snooping to  poetry techniques from metaphors to hyperbole. All the while the classroom drama unfolds, the clues add up, and the relationships of the kids in Mrs. Overton’s class change and grow making Candy Smash a satisfying read on several levels.

Reviewed by : LLW

Themes : Brothers and Sisters; Candy; Interpersonal Realtaios; Love, Poetry; School and School Stories

If you love this book, then try:

Davies, Jacqueline. The Lemonade War. Sandpiper, 2007.

Davies, Jacqueline. The Lemonade Crime. Sandpiper, 2011.

Davies, Jacqueline. The Bell Bandit. Sandpiper, 2012.

Critics have said

"Another rewarding chapter book from the Lemonade War series."

"Jacqueline Davies has added another fine book to her long-running ���Lemonade War�� series. The Treski kids always have a pretty compelling, kid-appropriate mystery to solve, interesting family dynamics, and some personal growth that will keep young readers engaged and turning the pages."
City Book Review

"The Candy Smash deserves five stars because the writing style is lively and full of action, which will make you want to keep reading!"