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The Bitter Side of Sweet Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Sullivan, Tara
ISBN: 0147515092     ISBN-13: 9780147515094
Publisher: Speak
    OUR PRICE: $9.89  
Product Type: Paperback
Published: June 2017
Annotation: Frantically working to escape punishment by their overseers, Ivory Coast child slaves Amadou and Seydou befriend a slave newcomer whose constant attempts to escape compel the brothers to plan their own flight. By the award-winning author of Golden Boy. Simultaneous eBook.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Slavery; Fiction.
Child labor; Fiction.
Chocolate; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: bl2017022651
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 5.50" W x 0.75" (0.64 lbs) 299 pages
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q68131
Reading Level: 5.3   Interest Level: Grades 6-8   Point Value: 19.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2016 Fall)
Fifteen-year-old Amadou and his little brother Seydou are debt slaves on an Ivory Coast cacao plantation. When feisty girl prisoner Khadija takes advantage of Seydou to try to escape, retribution falls on Amadou; confined to camp, Amadou isn't there to protect Seydou from life-threatening injury. This affecting, sometimes harsh tale demonstrates Sullivan's (Golden Boy) continuing commitment as a voice for human rights in Africa. Bib., glos.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2016 #1)
For the past two years, fifteen-year-old Amadou and his little brother Seydou have been held as debt slaves on an Ivory Coast cacao plantation. Amadou protects Seydou as best he can by keeping him from dangerous tasks and taking his beatings when he doesn't make quota. But when a feisty girl prisoner, Khadija, arrives, she takes advantage of Seydou's naiveté to try to escape, and their captors' retribution falls on Amadou. Beaten and confined to camp, Amadou isn't there to protec Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2015 November #5)

Sullivan (Golden Boy) shines a harsh light on the horrors of modern-day slavery through 15-year old Amadou's struggles to care for his eight-year old brother, Seydou, while farmers force them to harvest cacao on an Ivory Coast plantation. Amadou's understated narration accentuates his desperation: "I don't count how many times I've been hit for being under quota. I don't count how many days it's been since I've given up hope of going home." Tricked two years earlier into believing they had been offered seasonal work, the boys are locked in a shed at night, beaten for the smallest infraction, and punished with food deprivation. Escape attempts by a newly arrived 13-year-old girl, Khadija, inadvertently lead to Seydou suffering grievous injury. Terrified, but recognizing that Seydou will die if they remain enslaved, Amadou and Khadija make one more attempt at freedom. In a poignant scene later on, Amadou drinks hot chocolate, but gags when he realizes its source. His plea to Khadija's journalist mother to write their story, or "we won't have anyone to speak for us," underscores the disturbing realities underlying this heart-wrenching survival tale. Ages 12–up. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2016 January)

Gr 8 Up—The title of Sullivan's second novel is more description than metaphor, as it recounts the misery of child slavery on cacao farms in Africa. Facing hunger because of drought in their native Mali, 13-year-old Amadou and his beloved brother Seydou seek work to help their family. When the novel opens two years later, Amadou muses, "I don't count how many trees we pass because I don't count the things that don't matter. I don't count unripe pods. I don't count how many times I've been hit for being under quota. I don't count how many days it's been since I've given up hope of going home." Hope returns in the person of Khadijah, a hostage who is determined to escape even after a brutal punishment, reluctantly witnessed by Amadou. Their daring departure leads to action and adventure, some requiring suspension of disbelief. But the thrilling language, for example, the description of a terrifying leap into a speeding truck from an overhanging tree, races readers past the need for credibility. The novel's message is clear when the travelers reach relative safety with Khadijah's mother and Amadou tastes hot chocolate for the first time: "You mean that for the past two years we were kept on that farm to grow something that's a treat for city kids who can't sleep?" Back matter includes a glossary, list of sources, and an author's note with information about the international chocolate business. Readers are urged to choose fair trade chocolate as a step toward alleviating poverty among small cacao growers. VERDICT An engaging story that will engender empathy in readers. —Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL

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