Teacher's Guide: Chocolate Fever
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Henry Green loved chocolate so much that he ate it at every meal--in the regular ways, like chocolate cookies, chocolate cake (even for breakfast), and chocolate milk, and in unusual ways, like chocolate syrup on mashed potatoes, chocolate sprinkles on buttered noodles, and cocoa on fruit. His parents loved and indulged him; even his older sister and brother were good to him. One morning he broke out in large, brown, chocolate-smelling spots. The school nurse took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with "Chocolate Fever." Henry felt afraid, and he ran away. He was picked up by a kind truck driver who was hijacked just as he convinced Henry to call home. What else can go wrong for Henry? Can Chocolate Fever be cured? Will Henry learn to control his chocolate obsession?
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Robert Kimmel Smith was 8 years old when he read his first book--a book that moved him enough to make him cry. It turned out to be a life-defining event, because after that experience he decided not only that he loved reading, but also, luckily for us and for his millions of fans, that he wanted to become a writer. Little did he know that he would grow up to become an award-winning author whose books have sold millions of copies and are making a difference to millions of children.
Chocolate Fever is a lighthearted story. In the classroom, interdisciplinary connections can be made in language arts, science, math, health, social studies, and art. Humor is the main theme of the book, and it keeps the reader smiling, even in parts that are sad or scary. Sense of self is also a theme as Henry learns self-control and pride in himself.
Suggested Classroom Activities
Most children like chocolate. Ask students to bring their favorite recipes for a chocolate dish. (Any student who doesn't like chocolate may bring in an alternate sweet recipe.) Compile a classroom chocolate cookbook, with an "unchocolate" section. Let the students vote on the most tempting recipe and prepare it with the class. As they enjoy the treat, begin to tell about Henry Green.
The humor in Chocolate Fever is expressed in the unusual situations surrounding Henry (e.g., a noisy rash that smells like chocolate, two ridiculous hijackers who kidnap a load of candy bars instead of the furs they expected). Have each student write a description of his or her favorite funny scene from the book.
At the beginning of the story, Henry is a self-indulgent child who thinks only of his wants. Have the students find evidence of changes in his character (pp. 45, 46, 51, 62, 65, 84, 91); then ask them to describe his character at the end of the book.
At first, Nurse Farthing thought that Henry might have measles or chicken pox. Most school children are required to be inoculated against measles before they enter school. Have the students investigate the immunization policy at your school. Have the students research these two childhood diseases in a print and/or electronic encyclopedia and in an almanac. Is there a vaccine for chicken pox?
Children need certain foods to grow healthy and strong. Amazingly, Henry never got a bellyache, a cavity, or got fat on his chocolate diet. Assemble packages of chocolate products, such as chocolate cake mix, chocolate pudding mix, chocolate ice cream, chocolate-flavored cereal, and several chocolate candy bars. Have the students make a chart listing the number of calories, grams of protein, percentages of fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals found in each one. Ask the students to bring a product the next day that they feel is healthier. Make another chart for these products. Compare the two charts.
The town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, is the home of the Hershey chocolate company. In this town, all the streetlights are shaped like Hershey kisses. Have the students choose their favorite candy bar and draw a streetlight designed to represent their choice.
Have students research chocolate in the encyclopedia and almanac. (They will need to expand their search to include cocoa and cacao.) On a world map, have them mark the six countries that export the most cocoa beans.
Mac, the truck driver who picked up Henry when he ran away, gained Henry's confidence because he accepted Henry's appearance without criticism. When Henry was ready to talk, Mac listened sympathetically, but voiced concern for Henry's parents who must be "just sick to death with worrying about you." Have the students write a chapter to tell what Henry's family is doing while he is gone. Remind the students that, although the parents may be very worried, the chapter should have the same lighthearted mood as the book. Let the students share their chapters.
At the conclusion of the story, Henry has learned to control his love of chocolate. However, he discovers cinnamon, and the book ends with a question. Have the students write an answer to the question. Discuss the students' answers, and let them decide which one is most likely to be part of the sequel to Chocolate Fever.
Teaching Ideas prepared by Betty H. Teague, Library Media Specialist, Blythe Elementary School, Greenville, S.C.
Mrs. Kimmelfarber called Henry's condition a phenomenon (p. 25) and an emergency (p. 30). Mac said it made Henry unique (p. 61). Have the students look up these words in a dictionary or a thesaurus and find several other words these characters might have used.
"It's all quite preposterous and lots of laughs, and so are the cartoon illustrations."--Publishers Weekly
"You've heard of too much of a good thing? You've never hear of it the way it happens to Henry Green. Henry's a chocolate maven, first class. No, that's too mild. Henry's absolutely freaky over chocolate. Loco over cocoa. He can't get enough, until--aaarrrgh! Brown spots, brown bumps all over Henry. It's (gulp) Chocolate Fever, Robert K. Smith's pleasantly cautionary tale."--The New York Times Book Review
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