The Candy Smash is Jacqueline Davies most recent addition to the Lemonade War series (HMH, $15.99). Like Davies’s previous books (The Lemonade War, The Lemonade Crime, and The Bell Bandit), The Candy Smash contains a central theme around which the plot and chapters are organized. This time it’s writing. As usual, Davies does an excellent job showcasing different perspectives about the theme. Jessie, always pragmatic, is working on writing a newspaper. She approaches her self-assigned editorial job with structured design, following the rules of journalism to the letter. Evan, on the other hand, enjoys the emotions that envelop him during the class’s morning poetry reading. He plays with words, letting them swirl and play freely. This story takes place in February so the looming prospect of Valentine’s Day is wrecking a bit of havoc on their fourth grade classroom. When Jessie decides to investigate class crushes, she dances dangerously close to exposing too much and unwittingly embarrassing her classmates. Evan does intercede — thankfully because I was really starting to get worried. Although he protects his classmates, his own dabbling in poetry teaches him to take a few emotional risks of his own. Another incredibly satisfying book by Davies. Kids and 4th grade teachers will eat this one up.
I discussed The Lemonade War in a recent post and was so taken with the book that I couldn’t wait to read the rest of the series. Although Jacqueline Davies’s books do comprise a series, each one is so different that I will continue to review them separately. They are all excellent in their own right and I’m impressed with how she has developed the books. At the end of The Lemonade War, Evan discovers that Jessie and Megan’s hard-earned money has been stolen from his shorts, while he was swimming at a friend’s house. In The Lemonade Crime (HMH, $6.99), when school starts a few days later, Scott Spenser, who had left the pool party rather abruptly, starts boasting about his new gaming center. Jessie and Evan know that Scott has to be the culprit and Jessie sets out to prove it by putting him on trial. She organizes the whole 4th grade class into witnesses, judge, jury, and audience. As the prosecutor, she represents Evan. Scott, the defense, declines to be represented by a girl — the only classmates left since most of the boys are witnesses from the party. The class conducts a secret, no-adults trial on the playground and Jessie, despite her extensive preparation, discovers that courtrooms can be emotional, no matter how hard you try to stay objective. What an excellent introduction to the justice system! And I particularly appreciated Megan’s desire to act as Scott’s public defender. Megan, Jessie, and Evan all eventually accept that in the judicial system not everything turns out the way you want it to, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fair.
In The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies (Sandpiper, $5.99), siblings Evan and Jessie usually get along. But when Jessie, younger by 14 months, skips third grade and winds up in Evan’s class, Evan needs a break from his little sister. The more he tries to get rid of her, the more she tries to prove that she’s not just a little kid. Misunderstandings pile up and soon the two are in an all-out battle to see who can make the most money selling lemonade during the final heat wave of the summer. The stakes are high, pride mostly, and in this war, it’s winner takes all. Evan has the people skills, the friends, and the gumption. Jessie has the math skills, the strategies, and the organization. Evan needs to not feel dumb next to his younger sister and Jessie needs to learn how to make friends and connect with people. This war might be exactly what both kids need to discover a little about business, step outside of their comfort zones, and learn not to take each other’s gifts for granted.