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Review of No Monkeys, No Chocolate

No Monkeys, No Chocolate
by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young; illus. by Nicole Wong
Primary    Charlesbridge    32 pp.
8/13    978-1-58089-287-2    $16.95

Starting with the finished products (cake! candy bars! hot fudge sundaes!) and working backward, Stewart and Young explain where chocolate comes from. The expository text begins with cocoa beans, which are dried and processed by humans, then the story moves back to cocoa pods, which come from cocoa flowers pollinated by midges, going all the way back to monkeys dropping cocoa seeds on the rainforest floor and thus allowing new trees to grow. In this way, readers deduce the interdependence of life in the rainforest rather than relying on didactic telling from the authors. Full-bleed ink and watercolor illustrations zoom in on each step along the way, lending visual support to help identify potentially unfamiliar plants and animals. In a corner of each spread, two little worms provide a running commentary, with knee-slappers and puns galore. A concluding note describes the fragility of the environment, and an author’s note from Stewart outlines her writing process. A “What You Can Do to Help” page lists general suggestions for conservation.

From the January/February 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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