MY CHOCOLATE YEAR

A NOVEL WITH 12 RECIPES TO MAKE YOUR WORLD A LITTLE SWEETER

The anticipation of “Sweet Semester,” the fifth-grade dessert-making contest, has Dorrie and her Chicago classmates planning all sorts of recipes. This year, Mrs. Fitzgerald has made the contest more exciting and important by including a fundraiser for children of post–World War II Europe with the promise of newspaper coverage for winners of the best dessert and essay. Dorrie and best friend Sunny try out recipes for several favorite chocolate treats, often with humorous setbacks and unforeseen disasters. But the real tragedy is the news that most of Dorrie’s Jewish Polish family perished in the war with only 16-year-old cousin Victor surfacing from his hidden Holocaust life. Herman’s autobiographically inspired short novel captures the essence of a 1940s Jewish-American lifestyle filled with the love and hard work of an immigrant family determined to reunite with their sole surviving relative. Her lighthearted first-person narration, studded with 12 recipes for successful chocolate desserts, reflects a certain childhood sweetness that evolves into a more poignant understanding of the realities of war and the importance of family ties. Pham’s black-and-white drawings add a nostalgic flavor to the book’s time period and setting. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3341-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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A BIG CHEESE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

THE TRUE TALE OF A TREMENDOUS CHEDDAR

The author and illustrator bring to life an incident right out of history in this droll picture book enhanced by lively, color- washed pen-and-ink drawings. In Cheshire, Massachusetts, the home of mouth-watering cheese, the local residents grumble that President Jefferson is serving cheese from Norton, Connecticut, at the White House. “I have an idea,” says Elder John Leland to the assembled town folk, “If each of you will give one day’s milking from each of your many cows, we can put our curds together and create a whopping big cheddar.” Although some people scoff, the farmers bring load after load of milk—from 934 cows—to town and they set about making an enormous cheese. There are problems along the way, but eventually the giant cheese is dragged to a barn to age. At last it is perfect, and Mr. Leland and friends start the long haul to the East Room of White House. In a foreword, the author explains the truth and fiction in the tale, e.g., that the presidential residence wasn’t called the White House until about 1809. A humorous tale with a wide range of appeal and uses in and out of the classroom. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2573-4

Page Count: 30

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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THE GREAT DIVIDE

A MATHEMATICAL MARATHON

From Dodds (The Shape of Things, 1994, not reviewed, etc.), a rhyming, reckless text that makes a math process pleasurably solvable; Mitchell’s illustrative debut features a smashing cast of 1930s characters and a playfulness that will keep readers guessing. The premise is a Great Race: at the sound of the gun, 80 bicycle racers take off at top speed. The path diverges at the top of a cliff, and half the racers hurtle forever downward and right out of the race and the book. The remaining 40 racers determinedly continue in boats, their curls, spyglasses, eye patches, matronly upswept hairdos, and Clara Bow—lips intact. Whirlpools erupt to divide them again and wreck their ships, so it’s time to grab the next horse and ride on. The race continues, despite abrupt changes in modes of transportation and in the number of racers that dwindle by disastrous divisions, until a single winner glides over the finish line in a single-prop plane. The pace is so breathless and engaging that the book’s didactic origins all but disappear; few readers will notice that they’ve just finished a math problem, and most will want to go over all the action again. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7636-0442-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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