Fans of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and readers of Chris Grabenstein and Wendy Mass will love is an action-packed mystery about what happens if the world is about to run out of chocolate!
Life for Jelly Welly—or Jennifer Wellington—is totally and utterly normal in Chompton-on-de-Lyte. She lives with her mum and dad and gran, has nosy neighbors who like to gossip, and really needs to think of a science project that will get her a good grade.
But when news breaks of an impending chocopocalypse, her whole world—and the world at large—is thrown into utter chaos.
With only six days left until no more chocolate, Jelly has a sneaking suspicion that something isn’t right. She and her gran investigate, picking up on a mysterious trail of clues.
Is it really the dreaded chocopocalypse, or is there a mastermind behind the madness?
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans and mystery enthusiasts will also enjoy this chocolatey adventure."-School Library Journal
"[The Chocopocalypse] will likely find a place among readers who enjoy [Roald] Dahl's humor."-Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Chris Callaghan’s debut novel is The Chocopocalypse. He loves reading and writing (and chocolate) and, as an author, has taken inspiration from his various jobs, from fixing aircraft as a member of the Royal Air Force to checking pollution from pudding factories as an environmental scientist. Chris lives in England with his wife and daughter, who have to endure his bouts of “groovy kitchen dancing.”
Learn more about him and the looming chocolate crisis at chris-callaghan.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @callaghansstuff, or find out what he eats for dinner on Facebook.
Read an Excerpt
“in six days there will be no more chocolate in the world . . . ever!”
That’s what it said on The Seven Show.
Jelly had nearly reached the next level of Zombie Puppy Dash, but hearing this made her plunge the pink puppy into a huge tank of zombie dog food.
“Whoa! What was that about chocolate?” she asked, putting her tablet down.
“Something about it running out,” said Mum, popping a chunk of chocolate into her mouth. “Oh, you can’t beat a Blocka Choca, eh!”
Jelly and her mum and dad loved Blocka Chocas. Who didn’t? Once a week Mum bought one bar for each of them, and they all curled up on the sofa together to enjoy them before Mum started her night shift at the supermarket.
“Chocolate’s always mysteriously running out in this house,” said Dad, who’d already finished his Blocka Choca and was now eating cheese-and-onion potato chips. “I’m sure there was a Chunky Choc-Chip Crispie in the cupboard yesterday, but today it has vanished!”
“I don’t know why you’re looking at me,” Mum said, poking him in the belly, which was stretching the buttons of his checked shirt to their limit.
“Oh, that’s right, blame me.”
“Shh!” said Jelly. “I’m trying to listen!”
The Seven Show’s chirpy and very tanned host, Alice, was saying, “And now over to our man in the jungle and the scary chocolate prophecy!”
The screen cut to a lush green tropical paradise, like Jelly had seen on documentaries about endangered species, or advertising a vacation her parents could never afford.
The caption on the screen read easter egg island, and the reporter was a man called Martin who had a wonky but fake-looking smile that always made Jelly lick her front teeth and wonder if hers were as white and shiny. He covered the silly bits on the show, like the old steam train found buried on a beach in Wales and the dog that fell in love with an owl. Today he was standing next to an old man with wild gray hair that stuck up in patches.
Behind them was what looked like a huge stone egg, twice the height of Jelly’s dad and covered in jungle vines. It looked like it had been sprayed with green party streamers.
“Thank you, Alice,” said Martin. “I’m here on Easter Egg Island. This is the little island in the middle of the Atlantic Oceannot Easter Island in the Pacific, folks.” He chuckled. “Here with me is chocolate expert Professor Fizziwicks from the University of Shambridge. He is convinced that he has discovered a prophecy by the ancient civilization that once lived here and, if you can believe it, worshipped chocolate!”
The camera zoomed in to the egg-shaped stone. It was covered with weird-looking marks and scratches.
“Yes, indeed!” said the professor, who spoke like his tongue was too big for his mouth. Jelly could see it was lolling out like a thirsty dog’s, and he was spraying spit everywhere.
“Ew!” said Jelly, wrinkling her nose.
“The ancient Chocolati tribe who lived on this island over a thousand years ago created this egg, and others like it scattered throughout, as part of their worship, and it is believed,” he added, “that if you break one open, you’ll find a tiny bag of chocolate buttons inside!”
“Cool!” said Jelly.
“However, more importantly, these markings here and here”Professor Fizziwicks pointed at the egg“clearly indicate that during the sixty-sixth cycle of Cacao-Cacao, which refers of course to the movement of the stars on the summer solstice, there will be a” He paused, and Martin the reporter wiped the spit from his face with a tissue before leaning in.
“A . . . what?”
“A cataclysmic cacao catastrophe!” the professor spat. “A Chocopocalypse!”
“A choco-what?” Martin asked, his face shining with fresh saliva.
“A Chocopocalypse!” The professor grinned. “This amazing stone predicts the total and complete disintegration of cocoa products at a precise predetermined point in time”
The professor sighed. “It means that on the summer solsticethe twenty-first of June, this very Sundaychocolate will simply cease to exist. A Chocopocalypse means what it meansa chocolate apocalypse. It’s the end of chocolate!”
Jelly, her mum and her dad looked at each other with open mouths.
“That’s mad!” Jelly said.
“It also predicts,” continued the professor, pointing to more scratches on the egg stone, “that during the countdown to the catastrophe, a shower of chocolate shall rain down upon Easter Egg Island.”
Martin the reporter turned to face the camera with his wonky smile. “A shower of chocolate,” he chuckled. “I’d like to see that. Anyway, there you have it. The Chocopocalypse is coming! And with that bombshell, let’s go back to the studio to find out why dogs dream and cats don’t . . .”
“Well, it wouldn’t affect us here in Chompton, anyway,” said Dad, shrugging then switching off the TV. “There’s more chocolate shops here than there are people.”
It was truetheir town of Chompton-on-de-Lyte was famous for being the world’s biggest chocolate center. They had more chocolate shops, factories and warehouses than any other country. And even though Dad and lots of his friends had recently lost their jobs at the Big Choc Lot because of “cutbacks” (though nobody knew what that really meant), it was still the largest chocolate warehouse on earth. Enormous (but not pretty) ships came in and out of the river port, loading and unloading chocolate cargoes.
Local Chompton legend told that in 1522, the intrepid explorer Sir Walter Waffle returned from an epic expedition with Britain’s first shipload of chocolate. But instead of sailing down the Thames to London to unveil his new treats to King Henry VIII (who had a serious sweet tooth), he lost his bearings and ended up on the River de Lyte. Chompton had been at the center of the chocolate world ever since.
Jelly stretched out on the sofa, her legs across her mum’s and dad’s. “But how could chocolate just run out?” she said. “I mean, chocolate comes from . . . plants. Doesn’t it?”
She flicked open her tablet again and typed: “What is chocolate?”
“Chocolate is derived from cacao beans, more commonly known as cocoa beans, from pods on the cacao tree,” she read aloud. She knew her mum and dad loved to listen to her read, and she often read to them in bed to help them go to sleep. “The Mayan and Aztec civilizations drank a form of chocolate known as Theobroma cacaomeaning ‘Food of the Gods’centuries before it was shipped to Europe and developed into solid bars.”
“So even if the cacao tree did die out,” Mum said, “there would still be tons of chocolate left in the world.”
“Yeah, and let’s remember that was The Seven Show we were watching, not the evening news,” added Dad. “Last week they said that eating lots of bacon will give you a suntan. Well, when me and your mum were first married, I had a bacon sandwich every day, and did I look like I lived in the Bahamas? No, I did not!”
“There’s an app for it already!” Jelly said, still staring at her tablet.
“For what?” asked Dad, looking interested. “Bacon sandwiches?”
“No! The Chocopocalypse. ‘The countdown to the end of chocolate,’ it says here. It’s free. Can I? Please?”
Dad nodded. “All right, then, give it here. I’ll put the password in for you.”
“I already know the password,” said Jelly, feeling insulted. “I’m not a baby.”
But once the app had downloaded, Jelly suddenly didn’t want to look at it. She slid the tablet back down the side of the sofa and tried to forget about the Chocopocalypse.
She was always being told (usually by her mum) to stop worrying. But it wasn’t as simple as that. You can’t stop worrying about something just because someone tells you to stop worrying. Even if you want to stop, it doesn’t mean you can. To be told that she was always worrying made her think she did worry too much, and this worried her even more.
Could the world really run out of chocolate? Jelly was worried.
countdown to the Chocopocalypse:
5 Days, 11 Hours, 24 Minutes, 23 Seconds
after helping her mum tie her long brown hair back into a tight ponytail with various hair bands and clips, Jelly kissed her good night and off her mum went to start another twelve-hour night shift at the twenty-four-hour supermarket. Jelly left her dad attempting to repair a rip in one of Mum’s skirts with a needle and thread (she hated the sight of blood, and with her dad in charge of a needle, there was guaranteed to be some) and went up to her bedroom. Sitting in her comfy reclining chair with her feet propped on her bed, she stared up at the giant mosaic of her mum and dad she’d made out of old chocolate wrappers, and pondered.
It was crazy, and Jelly knew it, but she couldn’t stop thinking about the Chocopocalypse. What if the world did run out of chocolate? Did that include chocolate-flavored things? And chocolate cookies? And chocolate ice cream?
Why did she love chocolate so much, anyway? She couldn’t find the words. Maybe the proper words didn’t exist. Chocolate had a kind of . . . sort of . . . meltilicious chocodreaminess about it. She loved it more than fries or pizza. Even more than doughnuts or strawberry laces.
Did she love it more than her mum and dad? No, that’s not fair, she thought. It was completely different. (Wasn’t it?)
And why was a little chunk of chocolate never enough? Did they put something in it to make you always want another one? It was the same with peanuts and cell phones and . . .
Now she was thinking about Blocka Choca bars again!
She wondered if there was any more chocolate downstairs. Sometimes there was an Ice Choc hidden in the freezer behind the frozen broccoli or green beans. It was always a good surprise to find one, like some hidden gem, when she helped make dinner. But noshe’d been in the freezer yesterday, and there wasn’t even any frozen broccoli to hide behind.
Mum and Dad always left the shopping until Mum’s monthly payday, by which time there would be absolutely nothing left in the fridge, the freezer or any cupboard. When they did do the shopping, the Wellington family would eat like spoiled celebrities for a week, and then things got back to normallike having fish sticks and a sausage with some pasta for dinner.
“Make-do” meals was what Mum called them.
“Surprise-specials” was what Dad said.
“Bad-parenting” was what Gran grumbled.
Gran, Jelly suddenly thought. She’d definitely have chocolate.
Gran lived in an old caravan on the driveway. The Gran-a-van, they called it.
Their next-door neighbor, Mrs. Bunstable, was always complaining; in her opinion, it blocked her view. In Jelly’s opinion, the only view it blocked was of the gray box on the pavement that measured traffic pollution on their street, Waffle Way West.
But Mrs. Bunstable just liked to know everyone else’s businessand then talk about it to all her old-lady friends.
Gran had lived in the Gran-a-van for about a year now, since Grandad had died. There wasn’t enough room for her in their small stone terraced house, which had been built nearly one hundred years ago to house the workers at the port, and the caravan was all they had been able to afford. It was a really old pumpkin-shaped one with a date on its side showing it was even older than Dad, and it was covered in a patchwork of repairs and rust-colored stains (just like Dad). Still, Gran loved it. She said it was like being on an adventure, and that one day the Gran-a-van would magically turn into a golden coach and whisk her off to a fancy ball.
Jelly rapped on the caravan door.
“Friend or foe?” came a voice from inside.
“Granddaughter!” giggled Jelly.
After a few moments, the door opened and Gran’s wide grin greeted her, along with a waft of the caravan’s musty smell.
“Friend, definitely a friend,” she said, taking her headphones from around her neck.
You could always hear the highway noise through the thin metal walls of the Gran-a-van, so Gran wore her trusty headphones most of the time, even though they made her look like some kind of granny rapper.
“Come in, Jennifer dear, come in.”
Gran was one of the few people who called Jelly by her real name. When she was a baby, her parents had called her “Jelly Welly” (because their surname was Wellington) and the name had stuck. She didn’t particularly mind being called Jellythere were certainly worse things to be called (like Smelly Jelly Welly when she was a toddler!) and she had got used to it. At least she wasn’t called William, like her dadhaving a childhood nickname of “Willy Welly” explained a lot about his behavior.
“Did you see that funny thing on the television about the world running out of chocolate?” asked Jelly, moving a book from the worn sofa bed so she could sit down.
“No, dear, I’ve been reading. In between snoozes.” Gran straightened her bright yellow woolen cardigan, which always looked like it had shrunk in the wash, and settled her small, plump body next to Jelly. She fitted in quite well with all the badly stuffed cushions around her.
“There was this really weird professor saying that on Sunday there will be no chocolate left.”
“Oh, my stars!” laughed Gran, making her plastic-framed glasses slide to the end of her nose. “Well, in that case”she opened a drawer next to her“take your pick, dear, before they all disappear!”
Jelly chose a Blocka Choca bar from Gran’s special chocolate drawer, which was looking unusually empty, feeling a little guilty that this had been her real reason for calling on her.
Gran continued rummaging around. “Oh dear, none of my ginger chocolate left. Never mind, I’ll have a Blocka Choca too.”
“What are you reading, Gran?” Jelly asked as they chomped away. She turned the pages of the book next to her. It looked very weighty and serious, bound in tatty red leather, without even a picture on the front.
“Oh, that old thing?” Gran said. “It’s nothing. I’m just being nostalgic and silly.”
“The Philosophical Transgressions in Science: Compendium 1964,” read Jelly, struggling with the long words. She opened it at the contents page and skimmed through some of the chapter titles: Silly String Theory, A Brief History of Slime, A General Theory of Especially Annoying Relatives . . .
Then she spotted a familiar name. “The Positive in the Negative by A. T. Curtin.” She looked at Gran. “That’s you!”
Curtin was her gran’s maiden name, and Jelly knew she’d worked in a laboratory when she was younger but had never asked her about it.