I have a yummy, new picture book to feature today, that I think you’ll agree is a Perfect Picture Book in so many ways!
Title: Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, From Farm to Family
Written & Illustrated By: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher/Date: Bloomsbury Children’s Books/May 2019
Suitable for Ages: 3-6
Themes/Topics: grandparents, chocolate, family history
Chocolate is my most favorite thing ever. For my birthday, Daddy and I are making our family’s special celebration cake while Mommy goes to pick up another treat.
Brief Synopsis: A young girl learns about her grandfather, a cacao farmer in Africa, as she and her father prepare a special birthday cake and await a special treat.
Links to Resources:
- Discover how cacao is grown and harvested;
- Learn about the history of cacao and try these chocolate challenges, including coloring pages;
- The narrator guesses several times throughout the story about what treat her mother is bringing home for her birthday. Describe or draw a picture of your favorite treat or treats – is it something to eat or drink? A special thing or a special activity?
- Make some chocolaty treats.
Why I Like this Book:
Grandpa Cacao is a fascinating exploration of cacao bean farming in western Africa and a heart-warming tale of a granddaughter’s love for a grandfather she’s never met. I love how the unnamed narrator and her father mix and bake a special chocolate cake for her birthday, and, while doing so, Daddy shares details about Grandpa Cacao’s farm and their own family history. The anticipation builds as the narrator guesses again and again what “treat” her mother is picking up. What do you think it may be? I think many kids, and adults, will have fun guessing.
I particularly love Zunon’s stunning and colorful artwork – how she brings details of Africa into the house and shows the farm and Grandpa Cacao as the narrator imagines them.
For those who want to learn more of the story behind the story, there’s an Author’s Note, and “Chocolate Chunks” that explains the science, history, and production of chocolate. Zunon even shares the recipe for the Chocolate Celebration Cake so readers and their families can make and enjoy it, too.
A Note about Craft:
In an agent’s submission guidelines I recently read, she asked anyone submitting to include why s/he is the best person to write the submitted manuscript. While I think most kidlit creators and reviewers understand the concept of #OwnVoices, this directive, I believe, means something more: a personal connection to a particular story. How do you know if you, or if the person who has created a story, has that connection? I think the many details a creator can include and the emotion that oozes, like chocolate, from the text and/or illustrations are two indicators evident in Grandpa Cacao. What are some other features that you think show when someone is the right person to share a story?
Zunon is the illustrator of Baptiste & Miranda Paul’s I Am Farmer, among many other picture books. Visit her website to see more of her work. Grandpa Cacao is her debut as author and illustrator. Read a post she shared as a guest on the Nerdy Book Club blog about the genesis of Grandpa Cacao.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!