Over the past year, as I’ve delved into therapy for my son with autism, I have found the joy in working with his strengths in order to reach him and teach him. That’s one of the reasons I was delighted with Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod by Valerie Williams-Sanchez.

Eddie loves cars, and I love the glorious language with which he loves them. Read aloud this rhyme that Eddie repeats to himself throughout the book:

Cars that are big and cars that are small, minivans, sports cars, I like them all.

Cars that race and cars that roar, the louder their engines, I like them more.


The central rhyme is Eddie’s heart music, and it dances in and out of a story of redemption perfect for any child facing a major challenge.

Eddie begins the story so distracted by his love of cars that he fails his math test. Through the team work of his parents, a car-loving and dedicated math teacher, Eddie, and his new friends in the car club, Eddie’s love of cars inspires him to focus and work hard on math. By the end of the story, Eddie has mastered math and found a group of like-minded friends. The people around Eddie helped him master himself by embracing his love of cars.

Like all of Ms. Williams-Sanchez’s books, Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod has an element of chocolate. In this story, chocolate is part of a stabilizing ritual that also forms Eddie’s imagination. He thinks of his favorite car, the titular hot rod, as the color of hot cocoa. Readers will appreciate the brightly executed and well-framed juvenile-style illustrations that feature Eddie’s multiracial family and a diverse group of friends.

What I Loved About This Book:

  1. The story was well executed and complex while remaining relevant and accessible to children.
  2. That poem! It reminds me of the rhymes in Pantaloon and The Cat in the Hat –words that suit the story so well that they sing in the mind and make reading a joy.
  3. The adults in this book reach out to Eddie by building on what he knows and loves. I’ve not found a better recipe for learning or teaching, and I’m glad to see that wisdom in an enjoyable story.
  4. The hot cocoa. Eddie’s mom loves him with a daily ritual of chocolate. I support that.

You will find Eddie and the Hot Cocoa Hot Rod and the entire Cocoa Kids Collection of books at {Valerie Williams-Sanchez’s website}.


Did you know? 

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.