No Monkey Business Here

No Monkeys, No Chocolate

No monkeys, no chocolate

Last Thursday I had an author visit with my own children’s book, which is about Costa Rica. I spoke to 1,000 students about the plants and animals of the rainforest. When I arrived home from the school, a review copy of No Monkeys, No Chocolate was waiting by the door – very fitting for the subject I’ve been teaching for the past five years.

  • Targeted Audience: Lower and Upper Elementary (Ages 5 -8)
  • Genre: Non-fiction, Picture Book
  • Author: Melissa Stewart and Allen Young
  • Illustrator: Nicole Wang
  • Publisher: Charlebridge
  • Publication Date: August 1, 2013
  • Binding: Trade Hard Cover
  • Dimensions: 11.25″X8.75″
  • Printing: Full color
  • Length:32 Pages
  • Retail: $16.95
  • ISBN:978-1580892872

 It’s All About the Bean

If you’re like most people on earth, you are rather fond of chocolate. And if you’re more like I am, you dream about it, crave and frankly, live for it. So why not learn all you can about magical cocoa beans that satisfiy your taste buds like no other food can? For starters, cocoa pods are the fruits that grow on cocoa trees, and throughout the pages of No Monkeys, No Chocolate, what these beans need to grow and thrive will unfold in a most fascinating fashion.

Without This, Then Not That

The way the authors wrote this book is very clever. Many of the two-page spreads have headings summarizing what the beans can’t live without. For example, Cocoa Beans Cannot Develop Without Coco Pods, Cocoa Pods Can’t form Without Cocoa Flowers and…Midges and Cocoa Flowers Can’t Bloom Without Cocoa Leaves…and Maggots.

We learn intriguing facts about how the plants depend on the ecosystem of the rainforest – from the earth to the animals – to produce the coveted beans. There’s even a page about how the trees are protected from damaging leaf-cutter ants, which are close to my heart, as these are incredibly powerful insects I talk about in every author visit I do myself.

All the many facts in this story are fascinating, and will educate and entertain, not only children, but also teachers and parents. I read it twice to soak it all in, and I loved every minute of it. I also enjoyed the tiny Smart Aleck cartoon bookworms in the corners of the pages and their humorous, yet educational comments. I’m sure you will too.

By now I’m also sure you’re wondering about the wonderful title of this book and the role monkeys play in the survival of cocoa trees, but you didn’t expect me to give that away, now did you? You’ll have to read it yourself.


What This Book Teaches

No Monkeys, No Chocolate will make readers want to learn all they can to preserve our precious rainforests. The book also introduces them to how an ecosystem works in harmony, and how each part of the process involved plays its own crucial role. The illustrations by Nicole Wang are colorful, entertaining and wonderfully detailed, guiding the reader through the entire growing process. Two incredibly qualified authors penned this book., and their expertise will impress and inspire young readers. And hopefully they too will want to study science. (Be sure to read the Author’s Note in the back of the book.)

“When the eggs hatch, tiny maggots wriggle out and eat the ants’ brains.”

MStweartAbout the Authors

Melissa Stewart is the author of more than 150 books! After earning a BA in Biology from Union College and a Master’s in Science Journalism from New York University, Melissa worked as a children’s book editor for nine years before becoming a full time writer in 2000. While gathering information for her books, she has explored tropical rain forests in Costa Rica, gone on safari in East Africa, and swum with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. Melissa lives in Acton, Massachusetts.

Allen Young is the world’s leading expert on cocoa tree pollination and growth. He is the author of The Chocolate Tree: A Natural History of Cocoa. Allen lives in Fox Point, Wisconsin.

NWongAbout the Illustrator

Nicole Wong is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design. Her illustrations have been featured in the children’s book Why Are You So Sad? and in several magazines and educational books. Nicole, her husband, Dan, and their dog Sable, live in Fall River, Massachusetts, where they enjoy eating licorice, peanut butter cups, and jelly beans.

Further Learning

  1. Download the book’s terrific Teaching Guide.
  2. Use this Reader’s Theater Guide to plan a performance about the subject of this book.
  3. Research all the places in the world where cocoa beans grow and mark all these places on a world map.

If you like this book, I also recommend: Eco Mazes: 12 Earth Adventures.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I am going to raid my freezer to look for some chocolate I buried in there a while back. All this talk about the cocoa plant leaves me with an uncontrollable craving that must be satisfied . . . right now!

2 Thoughts.

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