HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Chocolate Fever
Author: Robert Kimmel Smith
Illustrator: Gioia Fiammenghi
Publisher: Puffin, reissued in 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0756967840 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0756967848 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0142405956 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0142405957 (Paperback)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 7-9 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Smith, Robert Kimmel. Chocolate Fever (published in 1972 by Coward McCann and Geoghegan Inc., 200 Madison Ave., New York City, NY 10016; republished in 1979 by Yearling Books, a division of Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York City, NY 10017). Henry Green is a boy who lives with his father, mother, and two older siblings, almost fourteen year old sister Elizabeth and ten year old brother Mark, in an apartment in the middle of the city. Henry loves chocolate. He likes it bitter, sweet, dark, light, and daily. He eats it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. He enjoys it in cakes, candy bars, milk, and every other form imaginable. His mother says that he probably loves chocolate more than any other boy in the history of the world.
One day, which starts off like any other day, Henry finds that strange things are happening to him. He goes to school but begins to feel unwell. Then he and his teacher notice that he is breaking out into hundreds of brown bumps that go “pop” and smell like chocolate. The school nurse takes him to the hospital. Dr. Fargo diagnoses him with the only case of Chocolate Fever ever, thus making medical history. Things get so hectic and out of hand at the hospital that Henry runs away. Then after finding himself caught up in a wild and wooly chase, he is given a ride on a semi truck by a guy named Mac and becomes involved in a very unusual hijacking. Will Henry ever get home? And is there a cure for Chocolate Fever?
I first heard of this book when it was recommended by a reader of “Homeschooling with the Trivium” e-mail loop in 2009. Therefore I was glad to find it in a used book sale. Aside from a couple instances of the common euphemism “gee,” the term “O Lord” is used once as an interjection, and one character smokes a cigar. However, while preteens are laughing aloud at this hilariously madcap romp, they will also be learning an important lesson. “We can’t have everything we want every time we want it!” It may be a hard lesson to understand, but Henry finally gets it. It’s an uproariously funny refutation of the old saw, “You can’t have too much of a good thing.”