no monkeys no chocolate

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong

A close-up look at the favorite sweet treat of chocolate, this nonfiction picture book explains exactly what it takes to get chocolate.  The book quickly moves to the tropical rain forests of Central and South America and the cocoa beans that grow there and how they are treated to get cocoa powder from them.  The book then moves to explaining cocoa pods, cocoa flowers, and cocoa leaves, but animals quickly come into the process from the midges that pollinate the cocoa flowers as they lay their eggs to the maggots of the coffin flies that take over the brains of the leaf-cutter ants.  Lizards and monkeys play a role too, but the monkeys are tantalizingly left to the end of the book.  Told in factual information, the book also offers asides by two funny bookworms who wonder along with the reader what in the world monkeys have to do with chocolate!

This is a fascinating look at the complexities of something that many of us take for granted.  Stewart, author of over 150 nonfiction books for children, worked with Allen Young, the world specialist on cocoa tree pollination and growth.  The result is a book that is enticing both in its premise and its execution.  Turning pages lets you learn more and the entire process is both odd and amazing.

The art by Wong has a wonderful lightness to it that fits the subject particularly well.  The clever little bookworms add a whimsical note to the entire book with their ballooned speech bubbles, ballcap, flower and skirt. 

A winner of a nonfiction picture book, this is one sweet addition to any library.  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.