Cocoa Magic

Cocoa Magic
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
November 08, 2022
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In a cozy 1920s chocolate shop, the special ingredients in each perfect treat are empathy, generosity, and thoughtful acts of kindness.
Eight-year-old Daniel cherishes the hour he spends every morning helping his Great-Uncle Lewis in his chocolate shop. They mix, temper, pour, and mold. “It’s magic, my boy,” Uncle Lewis says. And Daniel agrees. When a new girl named Sarah joins his class, Daniel sees how lonely she is and begins sneaking chocolates into her desk. Seeing Sarah light up after each treat is wonderful…but then Daniel starts noticing other classmates with troubles. Soon he is hiding more and more chocolates until the exciting day when everyone in class receives one, even the teacher! The best part is, no one knows it’s him.

But then, when Daniel is the one feeling sad and alone, who will know to comfort him?

In Cocoa Magic, Gabrielle Grimard’s rich and nostalgic illustrations transport readers to a cozy 1920s chocolate shop and a stiff brick schoolhouse that somehow learns to be warm as well.  In her text and her closing author’s note, clinical social worker Sandra Bradley celebrates the wonders that happen when someone meets another person’s need to be seen and understood—even through the smallest act of kindness. 

Editor review

1 review
Kindness is a Treat
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Daniel lives in Charlottestown in the 1920s, and his Uncle Lewis owns a chocolate shop. Daniel loves to help out making chocolates and hanging around the shop. When a new girl starts at his school, she seems lonely and a little scared, so Daniel leaves a small box with his best chocolate in it on her desk secretly. This seems to brighten her day, so he leaves one every day. When he sees another boy notice, he leaves a gift for him as well. This makes a difference in the mood of the classroom, and soon Daniel is supplying the whole class with chocolate. When his uncle needs to shut down the shop for a few days to attend an industry conference, Daniel is himself downcast. His classmates, who were aware of his kind actions, make sure that he knows that he is appreciated by giving him gifts of their own.
Good Points
When my children were at home, I left them every morning with the phrase "Go make the world a better place". It doesn't take that much effort to be kind, and to notice what people need and to take small steps to better their days. Cocoa Magic is unique in that it incorporates an interesting historical setting and a very specific act to making people's days brighter. I wish I had Daniel in my school, and not just for the delicious chocolate!

The illustrations have a sepia tone with a golden glow to it that seems especially apt for the 1920s setting, especially where chocolate is involved. The 1920s clothing is interesting to see, and the end papers look like a box of chocolates!

Children learn what they are taught, and reading books like Zhang's Amy Wu and the Warm Welcome, Miller's Not So Small, Birdsong's How to Spot a Best Friend and Dunrie's Ollie's Hug are a good way to provide concrete examples of how small actions can have big consequences when it comes to treating others with kindness... and unexpected chocolate!
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