No Monkeys, No Chocolate, by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young and illustrated by Nicole Wong definitely captures the reader’s attention with the word “chocolate,” and then holds it with an layered approach explaining how midges, flies, lizards and monkeys all are important to the continued survival of the cocoa tree.
The story starts with a birthday party with an amazing amount of chocolate desserts, which draws children in. Then we’re off to the tropics to find out where and how chocolate is grown. Once we see the cocoa beans drying in the sun, it is time to find out where the bean come from, then about the flowers that produce the beans, and then about the leaves that feed trees that produce the flowers, etc. Each time we learn about a new part of the system, we learn about a new creature that is critical to make that step happen. Suddenly, cocoa is part of a complex web of life dependent on rain forests for its existence. If you care about chocolate, then it becomes apparent you must also care about the rainforest and the creatures that live there.
Did I mention this book also comes with bookworms? Bookworms, what are those? Stewart came up with the idea of having cartoon characters comment on each page of the book, adding yet another layer of interest and information. You can even find them on either side of the title, commenting on what the title means, as well as on the back cover.
Now come the absolutely best part: Melissa Stewart has created an amazing interactive timeline to go with this book. She goes step-by-step through the lengthy creative process that resulted in No Monkeys, No Chocolate. Stewart explains at the SCBWI blog that she wanted to show children that writing takes practice, rewrites, starting over and sticking with it, just like any other field of interest. If you are an educator and/or a writer, the timeline is a treasure.
No Monkeys, No Chocolate can be used for units on plants and plant structures, ecology (food webs, ecosystems) and even writing. It will be a must for chocolate lovers, too. Be prepared to discover many new things about something we all take for granted.
Stop by Charlesbridge download free accompanying educational materials, such as
- Readers Theater: a play
- Teacher’s Guide
- Word Search, etc.
Publisher: Charlesbridge Pub Inc (August 2013)
Edit: See a bit more about the cacao fly at Growing with Science.
Disclosures: The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
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Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Booktalking to see who is hosting each week.
Today’s round up is at Sally’s Bookshelf.