If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present for a curious child then look no further, you need: How Does Chocolate Taste on Everest? by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe and Aaron Cushley. Speaking directly to the reader, Leisa and Aaron take us on a captivating expedition of the world’s most extreme places through sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. I’m thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour by sharing an interview with the author as well as a first look at this spectacular non-fiction book.
Have you ever wondered what the buzz of the rainforest sounds like on a trek through the world’s most secret place, The Amazon? Or how chocolate would taste on the world’s highest place, Mount Everest? This book is filled with answers to questions I didn’t even know I wanted answered! Leisa and Aaron take us to twelve of the most extreme places on the planet. Each place has a spread full of facts about what makes it unique and then a second spread arranged as five questions based around the senses: Can you hear that? Can you feel that? Can you see that? Can you smell that? Can you taste that?
Although aimed at age 8+, you can easily read this book with a younger child. My four-year-old was mesmerised by Aaron’s beautiful illustrations. She particularly loved the vertical spreads that flip the book on its side, such as the world’s darkest place: Voronya Cave, Georgia. Aaron’s depiction of the world’s most magical place, Greenland is truly magical!
No detail has been missed in this book, from the front matter about what you need to be an explorer to the beautiful scrapbook design of the glossary. Leisa and Aaron have created a one-of-a-kind once-in-a-lifetime fascinating expedition that will leave you wanting to get outside, use all your senses and explore our fascinating world!
To celebrate the release of How Does Chocolate Taste on Everest? Leisa is here to share some insights into how this fantastic book was created…
Hi Leisa, can you tell us a bit about how you came to write this book?
Most of my ideas come from chatting with my two wild things. They’re now six and eight years’ old and they love nothing better than stuffing their backpacks with “provisions” (walkie talkies, binoculars and of course snacks) and heading outside on “expeditions”. But I realised not all children have this access or relationship with the great outdoors, and in fact more and more children are living out their lives indoors. Natural England says fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago – they call it Nature Deficit Disorder. So, I wanted to write a book that encourages children to get outside, to jump in puddles so big they flood their wellies, and to connect with nature. This was BEFORE the pandemic. Little did I realise that all of us, big and small, would end up craving adventure and the outdoors too. I really hope families can enjoy an immersive round-the-world adventure when they pick up my book. A reminder that there is a big wide world out there waiting for us when the world is safer.
I knew I was going to love this book from the title – what came first, the title or the idea?
Full title credit must go to my editor Phoebe Jascourt. It was totally leftfield and I have to say, completely inspired! My kids are obsessed with asking me, sometimes daily, how tall is Everest. They’re also obsessed with chocolate. I feel like this is a marriage made in heaven. Hopefully a title like this will speak to all children whose minds are constantly busy with the WHYs and HOWs of this world.
Have you been to any of these places, and which one would you most like to go to?
I’ve been to some of these places, and have experienced most of these habitats, so that helped in writing the book. I’ve been lucky enough to lie on a frozen lake and watch the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky; to tearfully scramble across a mountain glacier; and to feel the oppressive humidity of the rainforest bearing down on me like a wet duvet! But the one place I’d LOVE to visit is Antarctica with my Dad. We’re conspiring to spend his retirement fund so that the two of us can get there on a research ship. Just don’t tell Mum.
Writers are often told to include the five senses in their writing, but you’ve taken this concept to a whole new level! What gave you the idea to showcase the destinations in this way?
I think that’s just me and the way I write. The eight-year-old me is obsessed with knowing these very specific details. You should see my everyday Google search history?! As I started to write this book it became clear that we had an opportunity to signpost the sensory journey in the narrative. It was a lot of fun, although what it TASTES like in the Mariana Trench wasn’t exactly straightforward. I’ll give you a hint . . . SWEAT!
What advice would you give to someone trying to find an original angle into writing non-fiction?
I think it’s the same rules as writing fiction – write what you know and write freely. Don’t try and write what you think editors or readers want because it’ll come out forced and people can sense that. I always crack on and have fun writing the book eight-year-old me most wanted to read, and luckily, as it turns out, eight-year-old tastes haven’t changed that much. Although I still don’t know what a fidget spinner is. And I’ve never caught a Pokemon. But I’m still totally cool. I am cool, right?
Thank you so much, Leisa! I think eight-year-old you and eight-year-old me would have been good friends!
How Does Chocolate Taste of Everest is published by Wren & Rook, 17 December 2021
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!
About the author
Leisa Stewart-Sharpe is a trained journalist turned children’s author, who writes stunning non-fiction and picture books. Originally from Australia, Leisa’s childhood has inspired her love for the natural world and its strange and wonderful creatures. Her first book, Blue Planet II, is part of a major new children’s non-fiction series in collaboration with BBC Earth and published by Puffin. Leisa also has a handful of exciting nonfiction titles and picture books coming soon.
Aaron Cushley is an illustrator and doodler of dogs. From Belfast, he studied Illustration and Graphic design at the University Of Ulster Belfast School Of Art & Design. Aaron’s work stems from his inner child and the innocence and creativity that emerges when he takes a pencil in his hand.
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I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.