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1 Beaverton Children's Young Adult- General

The Chocolate War


The Chocolate War Cover

ISBN13: 9780375829871
ISBN10: 0375829873
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Author Q & A

The following introduction to The Chocolate War was written by Robert Cormier in 1997.

The Chocolate War was written during weekday evening hours and Saturday mornings in parts of 1969, 1970, and 1971 while I was working full-time as a newspaper editor and columnist.

Writing the novel was a labor of love. Although the setting was a Catholic boys’ high school, I regarded the school as a metaphor for the world. On the other hand, I knew that, on its primary level, this was a story about a school chocolate sale. Who would be interested in reading such a story? I sometimes wondered. Yet I was having such a good time as the words leaped and danced on the page and the characters of Jerry Renault, Archie Costello, and Brother Leon came alive that I didn’t worry about it.

It seems incredible to me that more than two decades later, The Chocolate War continues to be read and taught (and to cause problems) in classrooms here in the United States and in such places as England, Australia, Sweden, France, and Japan, among others.

Yet the novel was almost stillborn and existed for more than a year in a kind of literary no-man’s-land. Seven major publishers rejected it over the course of thirteen months in 1972 and 1973. The reasons? Too complicated. Too many characters. A downbeat ending, which teenagers of the 1970s would find difficult to accept. Too violent. Not quite an adult novel, too sophisticated to be a juvenile novel. Too unbelievable. That frustrating “Not for us,” without further comment. One publisher, however, seriously considered accepting it if some changes were made, particularly to the ending.

I decided not to change or revise the novel. This was not a heroic gesture but an act of innocence. I knew nothing of the young adult market, was unaware of its then traditions and taboos, the domination of “safe” stories with role-model heroes walking off into the sunset of happy endings.

Although The Chocolate War does not have that hoped-for happy ending, its history has had happy moments and its share of heroes.

My son, Peter, inspired the novel when he refused, as a matter of principle, to sell the chocolates at his school’s annual sale.

Marilyn E. Marlow, my literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd., supported my decision against revisions and insisted that the novel, as written, would find its place in the world of young adult literature, convinced that the young adult market was entering a period of change, heralded by the earlier appearances of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Paul Zindel’s The Pigman.

Finally, Fabio Coen, then publisher of Books for Young Readers at Pantheon Books and Knopf, the eighth publisher to whom the book was submitted, accepted it for publication in April of 1973.

I worried about revisions. Needlessly, as it turned out. At a brief “editing session” at Fabio Coen’s office, his suggestions were few and minor, scrawled on a single sheet of paper. But he was doubtful about a short chapter toward the end of the novel.

Astonished, I realized it was a chapter I had agonized about earlier, actually removing it at one time, then reinstating it. I had found an editor who shared my instincts and my intentions. The chapter was removed. Otherwise, the novel was published essentially as I wrote it, in April of 1974. Fabio Coen became my mentor and remained so until his retirement several books later.

The success of The Chocolate War is testimony to all the other heroes involved in its history–teachers who have taught the book in the face of censorship attempts that sometimes threatened their jobs; librarians who have had to fight to keep the novel available to readers; critics, writers, and educators who supported the novel in countless reviews and essays; all the young people who continue to write me letters, who call me up, who organize protests when the book faces yet another banning threat; Pantheon Books, followed by Knopf and Dell Laurel-Leaf, who have kept the book in continuous print in hardback and softcover.

Talk about happy endings!

–Robert Cormier

Leominster, Massachusetts, 1997

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heyness, October 18, 2006 (view all comments by heyness)
what is the answer to question # 9?? i know it may be a bit unusual for u to see me asking this bt really.....n yes i hav already read the book. its nice!!

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Product Details

Cormier, Robert
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Parsons, Ash
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
School & Education
High schools
Social Situations - Physical & Emotional Abuse
Social Situations - Peer Pressure
Social Issues - Physical & Emotional Abuse
Social Issues - Peer Pressure
Situations / Peer Pressure
Children s-General
fiction;ya;young adult;bullying;high school;peer pressure;boys;realistic fiction;coming of age;bullies;teen;classic;conformity;gangs;violence;young adult fiction;cruelty;secret societies;young adult literature;banned;classics;private school;adolescence;te
Situations / Physical & Emotional Abuse
Edition Number:
Edition Description:
Readers Circle
Publication Date:
September 2004
Grade Level:
from 7
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

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Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Peer Pressure
Young Adult » General

The Chocolate War Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Knopf Books for Young Readers - English 9780375829871 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The Chocolate War is masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful; complex ideas develop and unfold with clarity."
"Review" by , "Vicious and violent mob cruelty in a boys' prep school is not a new theme but Cormier makes it compellingly immediate....Mature young readers will respect the uncompromising ending..."
"Review" by , "The characterizations of all the boys are superb....This novel [is] unique in its uncompromising portrait of human cruelty and conformity."
"Review" by , "Robert Cormier has written a brilliant novel."
"Synopsis" by , In 1974, after suffering rejections from seven major publishers, this uncompromising portrait of conformity and corruption made its debut and it quickly became a bestselling — and provocative — classic for young adults.
"Synopsis" by , A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies.
"Synopsis" by ,
A gritty, powerful debut that evokes The Outsiders. You won't be able to look away.

High school senior Jason knows how to take a punch. Living with an abusive father will teach a kid that. But hes also learned how to hit back, earning a reputation at school that ensures no one will mess with him. Even so, all Jason truly wants is to survive his father long enough to turn eighteen, take his younger sister, Janie, and run away.

Then one day, the leader of the in crowd at school, Michael, offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Jason figures Michael simply wants to be seen with someone with a tough rep and that the money will add up fast, making Jasons escape plan a reality. Plus, theres Michaels girl, Cyndra, who looks at Jason as if she sees something behind his false smile. As Jason gets drawn deeper into Michaels game, the money keeps flowing, but the stakes grow ever more dangerous. Soon, even Jasons fists and his ability to think on his feet arent enough to keep his head above water.

Still Waters is an intense, gritty thriller that pulls no punches—yet leaves you rooting for the tough guy. A powerful, dynamic debut.

A Junior Library Guild Selection


"Synopsis" by , US
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