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Children's Fiction Cooking & Food

Cocoa Magic

by (author) Sandra Bradley

illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Sep 2024
Cooking & Food, Emotions & Feelings, School & Education, Multigenerational, Values & Virtues
Recommended Age
4 to 7
Recommended Grade
k to 2
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2024
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Teacher’s Guide

Where to buy it


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.

“Chocolates bring togetherness—and magic—to a 1920s Prince Edward Island school… Bradley crafts a story laced with empathy and kindness. Grimard’s soft, mixed-media illustrations evoke a sense of coziness… Endpapers mimic a box of chocolates—a delicious touch…Sweet as sugar.—Kirkus Reviews

About the authors

SANDRA BRADLEY est une thérapeute et travailleuse sociale clinique qui adore le chocolat et qui écrit des livres pour enfants. Son premier album illustré, Henry Holton Takes the Ice, a été finaliste pour le prix Blue Spruce OLA Forest of Reading de l’ABO et le prix Maine Chickadee Reader’s Choice. Sandra vit dans la région de Kingston avec son mari et leurs trois adolescents.


SANDRA BRADLEY is a chocolate lover, a clinical social worker and therapist,

and a children’s book author. Her first picture book, Henry Holton Takes the Ice,

was a finalist for the OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award and the Maine

Chickadee Reader’s Choice Award. Sandra lives in the Kingston area with her

husband and their three teenage kids.

Sandra Bradley's profile page


GABRIELLE GRIMARD a illustré plus de 30 albums, dontLes mots volés, Quand j’avais huit ans, Fatima et les voleurs de clémentines, Aujourd'hui peut-être... et les livres de la série Petit Gnouf. Elle est aussi l'auteure-illustratrice de l'album Lila et la corneille. Gabrielle habite aux environs de Montréal.


From the time she was little GABRIELLE GRIMARD loved art, dismaying her elementary school teachers by constantly drawing in class. Later Gabrielle studied art in high school and university. After her son was born, she began illustrating children’s books and has now created more than 25, including When I Was Eight (Quand j'avais huit ans), Stolen Words (Les mots volés) and Not My Girl (Où est ma fille?). Lila and the Crow (Lila et la corneille) is the first book she both wrote and illustrated. She uses watercolours, gouache and oil to create images of amazing warmth and depth. Gabrielle lives near Montreal, QC. Visit her at

Gabrielle Grimard's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Cocoa Magic

2024 Forest of Reading - Blue Spruce Finalist

Quill and Quire “2022 Fall Preview: Books for Young People – Picture Books” Feature

49th Shelf “New Fall 2022 Books” Feature

“Setting the tale in the 1920s, the soft, warm-toned illustrations…give this an old-fashioned, historical feel….Delicious endpapers feature 24 unique, beautifully decorated candies….The SEL element is strongly laid out, with a nice twist at the end…”—School Library Journal

“Chocolates bring togetherness—and magic—to a 1920s Prince Edward Island school… Bradley crafts a story laced with empathy and kindness. Grimard’s soft, mixed-media illustrations evoke a sense of coziness… Endpapers mimic a box of chocolates—a delicious touch…Sweet as sugar.—Kirkus Reviews

“Grimard’s soft, muted artwork captures the old-fashioned feel of the story and its 1920s time period, but its message of giving is timeless. Bradley brings her experience as a social worker to this tale of empathy and kindness.”—Booklist

“This is a very sweet story…the message is universal. The illustrations have a glowing warmth that suits the story’s tone….Cocoa Magic has a timeless feel – it could easily have been written anytime in the hundred years between the time it is set and now – and is sure to resonate with kids and their parents.”—Quill & Quire

“A nice read-aloud to preschool, kindergarten and first graders depicting the kindness it is possible to create with such little effort.”—Youth Services Book Review

“While some children’s books about big topics like empathy miss the mark of a child-friendly vocabulary, this book is well-pitched to reach its intended audience and spark big themes. This could even serve as a good holiday read for young children who might struggle with the joy of gift-giving over merely gift-receiving.”—Children’s Literature

“[I]t’s a wholesome story with beautiful illustrations and a lesson that everyone can learn from.”—CM Magazine

“[C]ombining a story of kindness and generosity with a fragrant chocolate shop as its homey backdrop makes it hard to picture a more perfect holiday read…using everyone’s favourite indulgence to muse intelligently on how we can witness, help, and support one another…”—Open Book

“This charming picture book is…beautifully illustrated, and manages to be both about chocolate and empathy.”—Edible Inland Northwest

“A story about doing little things for others to build empathy and compassion, with the most delicious looking end pages I’ve ever seen!”—The International Educator

“What a wonderful story of empathy!…There may be magic in the cocoa and the sugar but most of it comes from the empathy demonstrated through the gift giving….that’s the important message to cherish from Cocoa Magic.”CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Mixed-media illustrations by Ms. Grimard offer young readers a real feel for this time in history while also showing the emotions felt with such wonderful acts of goodness.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“What a beautiful book….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….The illustrations are beautiful, as is the story.”—Book Time

“5 out of 5 stars…What an adorable book! I love how compassionate and generous Daniel is, and how he inspires others to be kind as well….The illustrations are mouth-wateringly beautiful!” —Luminous Libro

“Cocoa Magic is an exceptional picture book about empathy and acts of kindness…[this] is a particularly good book for teachers to share with their students and for parents to read with their children. Highly recommended!”—

“This is the book everyone needs this holiday season (or all year round really)…. A heart-squeezing story of the power of kindness and a reminder that the smallest gestures can often be the most meaningful.”—Charlotte Offsay (Instagram)

“[T]his book has a universal everyday message that can be enjoyed year-round.”—Growing Book by Book (Instagram)

“What a sweet book to read this holiday season that teaches kids to be kind and thoughtful and to think about others.”—Homeschoolingabhi (Instagram)

“A story as sweet as candy…. Bradley, a clinical social worker, imbues the story with thoughtfulness and the spirit of giving in a way sure to prompt reflection and discussion….Grimard’s illustrations lend a timeless atmosphere to the tale….A warm and tender treat.”—Olivia the Librarian (Instagram)

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