Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/01/2019 While a little girl and her father are baking her birthday chocolate cake together, Daddy tells her the story of his father, her grandpa Cacao. He lived in the Ivory Coast, growing, harvesting, and producing cacao beans to make the kind of cocoa powder that is part of the birthday cake. The narrative gracefully intertwines the past and present as Daddy narrates the story of cacao, and the girl sifts and mixes the ingredients for the cake. This is a romanticized tale of cacao production set in an idyllic, verdant place, redolent with cooperative villagers and sultry weather. Readers would do well to balance this telling with the author’s note and back matter that explain both the nostalgia and some of the harsh realities of cacao production, which include slave and child labor. Richly colored mixed-media illustrations parallel the narrative, juxtaposing the layers of collage in the girl’s context with the imagined Grandpa screen printed in white. A surprise ending rounds out this sweet story. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 04/01/2019 PreS-K—While waiting for her mother, a girl and her father make a cake to celebrate her birthday using one very important ingredient: cacao. The father invokes the memory of Grandpa Cacao, who finds the most joy in his cacao farm in Ivory Coast, Africa. Zunon's first authored–illustrated picture book takes readers back and forth between the girl's kitchen and the grandfather's farm. The first person narration is evocative. Six-line paragraphs accompany art created with oil paint and collage with screen print. The illustrations have a majestic feeling, as though the main characters control the scene. Moreover, this large scale encourages the readers' eyes to focus on the charismatic pictorial elements, which utilize colors to elicit an emotional connection. The back matter contains author's notes referencing the reality of the cacao trade and child labor, information about the science behind chocolate and the first people who tried chocolate, an explanation of the production process, and a chocolate cake recipe. VERDICT With an educational approach sure to expand the minds of children, this is an engaging multicultural addition for a public library picture book collection.–Kathia Ibacache, Simi Valley Public Library, CA - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.