No Monkeys, No Chocolateby Melissa Stewart, Allen Young, Nicole Wong
Everyone loves chocolate, right? But how many people actually know where chocolate comes from? How it’s made? Or that monkeys do their part to help this delicious sweet exist? This delectable dessert comes from cocoa beans, which grow on cocoa trees in tropical rain forests. But those trees couldn’t survive without the help of a menagerie of rain forest critters: a pollen-sucking midge, an aphid-munching anole lizard, brain-eating coffin fly maggots—they all pitch in to help the cocoa tree survive. A secondary layer of text delves deeper into statements such as "Cocoa flowers can’t bloom without cocoa leaves . . . and maggots," explaining the interdependence of the plants and animals in the tropical rain forests. Two wise-cracking bookworms appear on every page, adding humor and further commentary, making this book accessible to readers of different ages and reading levels. Back matter includes information about cocoa farming and rain forest preservation, as well as an author’s note.
Gr 4–6—Chocolate and monkeys may seem worlds apart, but as Stewart and Young point out in their clear text, it takes monkeys (and other critters) to scatter the cocoa beans (seeds) throughout the rain forest. Munching on the soft, tasty pulp lining the pods as they travel through the trees, the monkeys discard the not-so-tasty beans, scattering them indiscriminately. In a format slightly reminiscent of the old "This Is the House That Jack Built," the authors present a simply written look at a complex ecosystem encompassed by one tree's life cycle. Flowers, midges, leaves, maggots, ants, lizards, roots, and more all form parts of the process of producing the cocoa beans so essential to our candy bars and brownies. In a lighter note, two "bookworms" provide an amusing counterpoint in a tiny triangle at the bottom of the page. Wong's realistic watercolors stretch across the pages in warm cocoa browns and soft greens, with occasional splashes of rosy pink. Appended is a page pleading for more rain-forest preservation (not much mention of cocoa "plantations"), another with lists of things to do to make one's life "greener," and still another with an author's note on the origin and development of the book. For slightly older readers, a more traditional look may be found in Adrianna Morganelli's staid The Biography of Chocolate (Crabtree, 2006), but Stewart's book has more visual appeal (and then there are those monkeys…).—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Meet the Author
Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 150 science books for children. She holds degrees in biology and science journalism. Recent books include UNDER THE SNOW (Peachtree, 2009) and the A Place for series (Peachtree). She lives in Acton, Massachusetts.
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1 h d w a l l p a p e r s . c o m / s t r i p e d _ c a t - w a l l p a p e r . h t m l Look that up, no spaces for Rattletrap's picture ~Amber
Melissa has done it again. She has taken a nonfiction subject and made it fun and interesting to read about it. Her use of book worms on each page is a fun way to add humor and get kids to turn the pages. AWell done!
Who doesn’t love monkeys? And who doesn’t love chocolate? The title alone is enough to draw readers in, and to discover the fascinating interconnectedness of nature that does indeed link monkeys and chocolate. This multi-layered book begs for repeat readings. First, to enjoy the building-block main text. Then back again, to read the in-depth text that explains the fragile balances in the rain forest habitat that produce cocoa beans. (Gross-out loving kids will love some of these details – no brain-eating maggots, no chocolate!) A third layer of text has spunky bookworms making pun-filled comments as they hang out on the pages while reading the book. Lush, detailed artwork lets readers discover something new each time they open the book. Fascinating back matter shares the latest research on rain forest cocoa groves, what we can do to help, and the author’s journey from idea to book. Monkeys and chocolate are a winning combination!