In the late 1800s, two girls are world’s apart, yet their respective knowledge brings them together.
One lives in Santo Domingo of the Dominican Republic and the other in Maine of the U.S.A.
One knows chocolate comes from large cocoa pods that contain a sweet, edible white pulp, & that the little beans are separated out and spread in the sun until they turn chocolate brown?
The other knows that ice harvests in Maine were improved in early in winter by drilling holes in the ice? Later the thick ice was hauled onto horse drawn sleighs, to be stored in sawdust.
A marvelous aspect of this book is the wonder each child experiences as they talk of the treats made possible by the other’s world. Imagine, ice in the Caribbean to make iced cocoa, and cocoa powder in Maine for chocolate ice cream!
But that is not all. We find the two girls are connected! Uncle Jacob, from Maine, shows the dark Caribbean girl his picture of a light skinned Maine girl with a ribbon in her hair. Then, he presents her with a gift of a small ‘pillow’ of balsam the Maine girl made: “It doesn’t smell like chocolate or jasmine or papaya or anything in the world. It smells strange and wonderful. And now it’s mine.”
[This suggests a great way to institute a good use of the Internet. An Internet penpal, if
you have distant contacts with a child of a similar age as your own.]
The strong yet flat colors of the cut paper and gouache illustrations emphasize the Caribbean and pioneering sense of the book.
Your child deserves to have this delightful and benign child’s perspective of trade on his or her bookshelf.