Cocoa Magic

Pajama Pr. Nov. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772782646.
K-Gr 3–Daniel learns to make chocolate from Great-Uncle Lewis, who has a chocolate shop in town. When a new student arrives at school, Daniel makes her smile by leaving a chocolate in her desk. Then he begins to notice other kids who need a small act of kindness, and begins bringing more chocolates in secret. When Uncle Lewis goes away for a week, Daniel is sad, but his classmates cheer him up by leaving sweets and small gifts in his desk. On his return, Lewis is “tickled pink,” and school “never seemed cold or lonely again.” The ending is a bit too quick and neat, and the message is not original, but is one that bears repeating in new variations. Setting the tale in the 1920s, the soft, warm-toned illustrations on a background closer to parchment than white give this an old-fashioned, historical feel, as does the classroom furniture, the students’ clothes, and the uncle’s mustache. The children in the classroom appear mostly white, with some brown and Asian characters; one uses a crutch. Delicious endpapers feature 24 unique, beautifully decorated candies.
VERDICT The SEL element is strongly laid out, with a nice twist at the end, for a well-intentioned but likely additional purchase.

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