Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

My Chocolate Year

My Chocolate Year

Charlotte Herman
Illustrator:  LeUyen Pham 
For ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2008   ISBN: 978-1416933410

The war is finally over and Dorrie is thrilled to be starting fifth grade. This year, Dorrie's new teacher will be holding the Sweet Semester baking and essay contest. Of course, Dorrie wants to win the contest but she is a little worried because she is not a very good cook, unlike her mother and her Bubbie. Dorrie tries to come up with a good dessert idea but all her ideas and experiments end in disaster. Her chocolate covered gum melts, and she burns her brownies. As for her chocolate nut clusters, well let's just say they aren't a roaring success either.

There is also a cloud of unhappiness and worry hanging over Dorrie and her family. Many of their family members were living in Europe when the war broke out and some of them are still missing. Everyone is worried that Dorrie's cousin Victor, and his family, all died.

In November, after contacting everyone they can think of, Dorrie's family finally gets word that Victor is alive and in a special camp. At last, something "sweet" has happened, though it is tempered with the "bitter" knowledge that Victor is the only family member to survive. His parents and grandmother died.

In this delightful book, Charlotte Herman tells two stories. There is the description of the everyday life of a young Jewish girl who loves chocolate; and there is the story of her family's struggles as they do their best to come to terms with the postwar world. Dorrie learns that the support of family during hard times is priceless, and that good things can come out of painful situations.