Zunon writes and illustrates an ode to her grandfather, a cacao worker in the Ivory Coast, through the eyes of a young girl.
As they bake their favorite chocolate cake for her birthday, the girl’s father tells her that chocolate is a gift from farmers like her grandpa, and she asks him to tell her about Grandpa Cacao again. As they mix their cake batter, the pictures show her father’s homeland, “where the air breathes hot and damp, thick with stories and music and the languages of people from tiny villages and big cities.” He describes the hard work Grandpa Cacao did on the farm, carrying heavy loads, picking ripe fruit, scooping out the cacao pods, spreading them out to dry. As they put their cake in the oven, the little girl wonders what special treat her mother is bringing home for her birthday. When the doorbell rings, she is thrilled to meet the best surprise ever. Zunon’s familiar paint-and-collage illustrations use glowing brown faces and natural tones in the girl’s story and white, screen-printed human figures against painted backgrounds in the father’s story set in the Ivory Coast. The story is replete with sensory details, and two spreads of backmatter round out the informational content, including maps, history, and a cake recipe.
Delectable treats plus family history make this a sweet story to share. (Picture book. 5-9)