What a beautiful book.

That was my first thought when I received a copy of Cocoa Magic by Sandra Bradley and Gabrielle Grimard.

My second thought was you can never go wrong with a book that features chocolate. The fact that chocolate is used as a way to bring a bit of magic and joy into people’s lives makes the book even better.

In this picture book, Daniel, who is eight, has been working in his uncle’s chocolate shop since he was four. Every morning, he helps his uncle, the Cocoa King to Charlottetown, before heading off to school, which is a lonely, dark and sad place.

One morning, a new girl arrives in his classroom and Daniel notices she doesn’t smile the entire day. He understands if he feels the school is a sad and lonely place, his new classmate, Sarah, must be feeling the same. The next morning, Daniel picks the best piece of chocolate, places it in a gold box and secretly hides it in Sarah’s desk. When she finds it, Daniel notices she smiles for the first time. Her smile grows bigger as Daniel continues to secretly put chocolates in her desk day after day. When Daniel starts noticing other classmates troubles, he begins hiding more chocolate and watches as it does its magic – children are kinder and happier until, one day, it’s Daniel who is sad and lonely.

The illustrations are beautiful, as is the story. In her author’s note, Bradley, a clinical social worker, she said her book is a story “about empathy and one child’s ability to turn his understanding of another’s feelings into a small act of kindness.” Bradley talks about empathy and how it can be taught.

“It is exciting to realize that one small act of kindness can start an entire movement, just as one small cocoa bean can become a large and beautiful tree.”

Cocoa Magic is from Pajama Press and is for children four to seven. It retails for $23.95.

A copy of Cocoa Magic was provided by Pajama Press for an honest review. The opinions are my own.