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Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica Review by Jennifer Ladewig

Jack Ewing
PixyJack Press Inc.
P.O. Box 149
Masonville, CO 80541

Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica takes readers into the rainforest of Costa Rica, home to a diverse and fascinating class of animals and plants. This book is 240 pages in length. The purchase price is $19.95.

This book would be a perfect read-aloud book for lower elementary grades. My 4th grader read this book and loved it. With that said, I would put the readability level at upper elementary and above. I read this book and found it thoroughly fascinating.

Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate, written by naturalist Jack Ewing, is an intriguing collection of stories compiled from over three decades of living in Costa Rica. Ewing is a fabulous storyteller and gives his readers a vivid depiction of life in the rainforest of Costa Rica. The author has an uncanny ability to draw his readers in. You feel like you are there in the rainforest experiencing what you are reading. Each chapter is like its own story. After reading the book in its entirety, you will definitely have a unique insight into Costa Rica. Ewing founded Hacienda Baru, a nature preserve that is now a world-class ecotourism destination.

In the middle of the book readers will find a sixteen-page color photo album. The photos are spectacular and have captions explaining each photograph. These photographs give the reader a great visual of stuff talked about in the book.

When we first got the book my 10-year-old said, “Mom, why does the title say that monkeys are made of chocolate?” After reading the book the title totally makes sense. My daughter has an intense fascination with animals and learned so much from this book. My daughter said:

“Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate is a fun way to learn about Costa Rica. In this book, you will learn about sloths, coatis, toucans, different types of trees and a lot more. My favorite chapter was 21 entitled, A Bad Trip into the Magic World of the Giant Toad, because the story was really good. Jack Ewing talks about finding a stray dog that liked to catch and bite poisonous toads. One really interesting thing that I learned was that the jabillo tree deposits its seeds is by shooting the crown shaped seeds off of the branches and it sounds like a gunshot. This tree is very dangerous because if you cut at the bark of the tree it will shoot a latex, milky substance that is blinding if it gets in your eyes. I loved this book!!!!!”

Chapter 12 entitled, Addictive Brown Powder and Biodiversity, was one of my favorite chapters. It talks about chocolate! I learned some very interesting details about the cacao tree. Did you know that the Mayas were the first to grow, harvest, ferment, and dry cacao beans? In 1876, Daniel Peter of Switzerland added milk to cacao, yum.

This book is definitely worth reading. It would be a great addition to your child’s geography study of Costa Rica. The book would be a great source of information for those planning to travel to Costa Rica. I would absolutely recommend this book to others.

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2017