Thursday, 5 August 2010
I have just read Bitter Chocolate by Sally Grindley. It is a book I am planning on using in the Creativity and Children's Literature module I teach on the MA Writing for Children at Winchester. It is a beautifully written book and a prime example of how to deal with difficult issues in a sensitive yet elucidating way. There is no way the book can be accused of being didactic yet it is still educational.
The story is told from Pascal's point of view but this is split in two. Some of the chapters are based in the plantation where he splits cocoa pods with other boys who are treated like slaves. The chapters explain Pascal's journey to the plantation. They tell you about his family then his time as a boy soldier. It wasn't how he wanted it to be. The ending is sudden. It leaves you hanging there wondering. But the ending is perfect, it provides hope and a future.
Sally's research has obviously been extensive. It is not in your face but it is there in the story adding depth to it. I particularly enjoyed the fact she talks about Salif Keita, whose music I love and was introduced to earlier this year by a friend.
I loved Sally's Spilled Water which was used when I was doing the MA but this book is even better and if you want a treat go and read it.