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Chocolate: Sweet Science and Dark Secrets of the Worlds Favorite Treat

by by Kay Frydenborg

School Library Journal Gr 6-8-This fascinating book presents a deep, multifaceted glimpse at a delectable dessert: chocolate. Engaging-even witty in places-and enlightening, it gives a history of the sweet treat, speculating about its little-known origins 1,500 years ago in the Upper Amazon Basin of South America, exploring its role in the European conquest of Central and South America, and discussing the dark side of chocolate: the use of slave labor to grow and harvest it. Frydenborg examines the development of chocolate as an industry in Europe and America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The book also goes into the science of the confection, such as why it's considered so tasty and its potential health benefits. Along the way, Frydenborg seamlessly weaves in information about relevant historical figures, including confectioner Milton S. Hershey; Russian scientist Nikolai Vavilov, who traced the origins of the cacao tree; and explorers such as Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizzaro. Photographs enhance readers' understanding, though the recipes and sidebars are occasionally distracting. Robert Burleigh's celebrated Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest (Abrams, 2002), aimed at elementary school students, is better designed, but those looking for a more detailed history for an older audience would do well to consult Frydenborg's work. VERDICT An excellent and highly original addition to history collections.-Shauntee Burns-Simpson, New York Public Library, Staten Island (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Frydenborg (Wild Horse Scientists) examines the considerable impact, both good and bad, that chocolate and the cacao tree have had and continue to have on cultures around the globe in this wide-ranging treatment of the subject. Primarily a chronological history of the tropical plant and its deliciously addictive by-products, the fascinating, fast-moving narrative also delves into the socioeconomic, scientific, and culinary importance of the cacao bean. Recipes, from Aztec foaming chocolate to Toll House cookies, conclude many of the 13 chapters, which include "Tree of Myth and Money" and "Candy, Food, or Medicine?" A full-color insert includes photos of the tree itself and modern-day Peruvian cacao farmers, as well as reproductions of artwork depicting Mesoamerican people and events touched by chocolate. With a rise in social justice, sustainable food sourcing, and global warming, the author considers how the crop might benefit the Amazonian rainforest and its native peoples: "Could chocolate be the key to preserving this precious, threatened ecosystem and to helping people whose livelihood depends on it?" A bibliography, website list, and time line conclude this expansive chocolate primer. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)? © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list The history of chocolate is a troubling one, riddled as it is with slavery, exploitation, and risky environmental practices, and the food itself, particularly its health benefits, is often a source of mystery. Frydenborg sets out to untangle that mystery, beginning with chocolate's vital role in ancient Mesoamerican culture, its discovery by conquistadores, and its eventual worldwide popularity. Today, as demand for chocolate starts to outpace supply, scientists and growers are seeking out ways to adopt more sustainable cultivation practices as well as searching for wild cacao trees, which might offer clues about the plant's origin. Covering controversy over labor laws, the chemical makeup of chocolate, and recent attempts to map the cacao genome, Frydenborg offers a wealth of information that will likely encourage students to think critically about the ecological and human cost of their favorite candies and maybe even prompt them to choose sustainable alternatives. This is a great choice for school projects or chocolate fans curious about their beloved treat.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Gr 6-8-This fascinating book presents a deep, multifaceted glimpse at a delectable dessert: chocolate. Engaging-even witty in places-and enlightening, it gives a history of the sweet treat, speculating about its little-known origins 1,500 years ago in the Upper Amazon Basin of South America, exploring its role in the European conquest of Central and South America, and discussing the dark side of chocolate: the use of slave labor to grow and harvest it. Frydenborg examines the development of chocolate as an industry in Europe and America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The book also goes into the science of the confection, such as why it's considered so tasty and its potential health benefits. Along the way, Frydenborg seamlessly weaves in information about relevant historical figures, including confectioner Milton S. Hershey; Russian scientist Nikolai Vavilov, who traced the origins of the cacao tree; and explorers such as Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizzaro. Photographs enhance readers' understanding, though the recipes and sidebars are occasionally distracting. Robert Burleigh's celebrated Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest (Abrams, 2002), aimed at elementary school students, is better designed, but those looking for a more detailed history for an older audience would do well to consult Frydenborg's work. VERDICT An excellent and highly original addition to history collections.-Shauntee Burns-Simpson, New York Public Library, Staten Island © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

 

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