A review of ‘Chocolate’ (Janet Hardy-Gould) by Dr. Christine Zeiler

oxford-bookworms-2-chocolateOxford Bookworms Stage 2, Series Factfiles

ISBN 978-0-19-478730-7

The slim 50-page booklet comes with an appetizing cover featuring various alluring chocolate bars. Its 12 chapters truly encompass “The World of Chocolate”.  They start out with the different types of cacao trees and beans, the Maya origins of chocolate making and its journey from America back to Spain with the Conquistadors. Adding sugar made it popular, but the price kept it to the rich.

The first chocolate houses for liquid chocolate opened in London in the 17th century. But it took the Industrial Revolution for the invention of the cocoa press that separated the cocoa butter from the solids, making the production of bars possible. While different European chocolatiers tried their hand at refinement techniques, an American, Milton Hershey, introduced mass production of chocolate and thus finally made it affordable for everyone.

The following chapters depict the long way from cacao pod to chocolate bar as well as the social implications of chocolate production, from slave trade to Fairtrade. The chemical ingredients of chocolate are dealt with, its stimulating effect thanks to Theobromine, the health effects of consuming dark, milk or white chocolate as well as the dangers for your waist and weight, while photographs of Belgian pralines and all kinds of luxury chocolate make your mouth water…

Ideas (plus pictures) on what to cook and bake with chocolate come with an easy-to-copy recipe for American chocolate chip cookies which could be turned into the real thing in the school kitchen for Parents’ Day or the next charity.

The penultimate chapter sends all those who want to find out even more about chocolate to the relevant museums all over the world, from Barcelona, where your admission ticket is a bar of chocolate, to the chocolate Terra Cotta Army in the World Chocolate Wonderland in Beijing.

And just in case you can’t think of enough opportunities for buying and giving chocolate, an overview over the world’s presenting habits and days takes that problem off your mind.

The story of chocolate is as endless as our craving for it, which guarantees its success also in the future, economic boom or bust.

The book is in easy-to-read, 700-headwords English. It comes with a glossary and an extended and varied ‘Before’, ‘While’ and ‘After’ Reading section which will certainly succeed in awakening the students’ interest in the topic.

The illustrative colour photographs reduce the text per page (surely an incentive for 12-year-olds to tackle the book in the first place!) and make the story of the cacao bean more tangible for the young reader.

This is excellent, many sided information in simple shape. Why not do a chocolate project in 3rd grade and use it as a basis for group presentations? On the CD it comes with, the entire text is read by a male reader in slow, clear and pronounced English, any part of which would lend itself to a listening exercise for 2nd or 3rd grade – even in a test. Be prepared, however, for one negative effect of this book:  reading it makes you want some chocolate very badly. Ask me!

PassbildDr. Christine Zeiler taught English and Geography for 36 years at GRG XIX Billrothstraße and for 7 years at Sir Karl Popper-Schule at Wiedner Gürtel. Her English Drama Group performed one to two plays a year in English for about 20 years.

Dr. Zeiler retired from her official job in 2008. Since then she has worked for TEA for three years,  taught and examined for the Berufsreifeprüfung in English at Berufsförderungsinstitut (Bfi), trained and worked with the British Council as an Oral Examiner for the Cambridge Exams and acted as a travel guide and trainer for future travel guides for her daughter’s Travel Guiding Academy Club Europa.

Apart from minding her granddaughter, she currently works for Caritas, giving German lessons to Syrian, Iraqui and Afghan refugees as well as to a lady from Nigeria.

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