The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate!

The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate! illus. by Rob McClurkan. Level Three ed. 48p. (Ready-to-Read: History of Fun Stuff). ebook available. S. & S./Simon Spotlight. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481420532; pap. $3.99. ISBN 9781481420525. LC 2014009883.
K-Gr 2—Who doesn't enjoy warming up with a cup of hot cocoa on a cold day? Kids will relish learning the history of their favorite wintertime drink in this beginning reader. The opening chapter presents questions that the text will soon answer, giving children a chance to anticipate what will come next. Four chapters cover the history of chocolate, starting with the Olmec people of Central America. Colonization of the New World is briefly mentioned: "The British conquered the Caribbean island of Jamaica….That meant the British had their own source of necessary ingredients." The book may exaggerate chocolate's role in major Western historical events, but an image of a smiling cartoon George Washington and Thomas Jefferson sharing monogrammed mugs together makes for a fun image. Examples of how people in countries around the world take their hot chocolate today brings the topic back to the present (the page on the history of marshmallows is an excellent touch). Back matter includes interesting forays into rainforest ecology, various globalized crops from the Americas, and economics. The multiple choice quiz offers readers a chance to practice recalling and reinforcing names and dates.
VERDICT Though the text is on the complex side for novice readers, this is a sweet choice that kids and families can cozy up with on a chilly day.

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