Classic Novel: The Chocolate War


Bibliographical Information:

Title- The Chocolate War

Author- Robert Cormier

ISBN- 0375829873

Publisher- Ember

Copyright- 1974

Genre (s): YA

Interest Age: 14 and up

Reader’s Annotation: Jerry Renault refuses to sell chocolate in his school’s annual fund-raiser. In doing so, he disrupts the order of things and in turn gains the wrath of The Vigils.

Plot Summary:

Jerry Renault is tasked with the assignment by The Vigils, a school gang, to refuse to sell chocolates in the school’s annual fundraiser. He goes along with the assignment, much to Brother Leon’s dismay. He is then told by The Vigils that he must begin to sell chocolates after 10 days. When Brother Leon calls his name, Jerry says “no” meaning he will not sell the chocolate. The Vigils call Jerry to meet, and tell him that he is to begin selling chocolates the next day. Jerry still refuses to sell the chocolates. The Vigils, and their leader Archie, decide to make life hell for Jerry. They do just that, and more by getting other students involved. Archie plans a rally for the students, and has students write moves for either Jerry or another student named Janza to make against each other in a boxing match. Jerry ends up with a broken jaw and a few other injuries, and no hope for the future.

Critical Evaluation:

I liked this book. I typically do not like darker novels, but I found that I connected very well with the characters. I had never heard of this book before this course, but I am glad I was able to get a glimpse into some classic YA literature, including The Chocolate War. I think I like this novel mostly because it was out of the norm that I usually read, and I liked it.

Author Bio/Information:

“Robert Edmund Cormier (January 17, 1925–November 2, 2000) was an American author, columnist and reporter, known for his deeply pessimistic, downbeat literature. His most popular works include I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, We All Fall Down and The Chocolate War, all of which have won awards. The Chocolate War was challenged in multiple libraries. His books often are concerned with themes such as abuse, mental illness, violence, revenge, betrayal and conspiracy. In most of his novels, the protagonists do not win” (“Robert Cormier,” n.d.).

Ties to Curriculum Units: N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

Would you “dare to disturb the universe?”

Challenging Issues:

This book has been challenged a number of times because of it’s language, not exactly positive message, and violence. I would explain to anyone challenging this book that it can be realistic to what people, especially teens, go through even today.


Robert Cormier. (n.d.) Goodreads. Retrieved from


Classic Novel: Forever


Bibliographical Information:

Title- Forever

Author- Judy Blume

ISBN- 033039780X

Publisher- Pan Childrens

Copyright- 1975

Genre(s): Young Adult, Romance

Interest Age: 15 and up

Reader’s Annotation: Katherine and Michael meet and fall in love. Once they fall in love, they decide to have sex for the first time, but will those feelings last a summer apart?

Plot Summary:

Katherine and Michael meet at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. After that, they spend every waking moment together. They fall in love. Katherine feels pressure to have sex with Michael. Although Michael is not pressuring her, Katherine knows that he has had sex before. Kathrine plans on having sex with Michael, so she visits Planned Parenthood. Her mother also gives her information on safe sex. Katherine and Michael have sex. Katherine starts to make her life revolve around Michael. Her parents are concerned and they end up taking summer jobs in different states. Katherine soon develops feelings for another guy while gone. She learns that she learned a lot from her experience with Michael and from her parents.

Critical Evaluation:

I really enjoyed this book. I think Katherine was really smart in her thought process towards sex. I enjoyed Katherine as a character, and I feel like teens will relate to her experience and thoughts during this time. Judy Blume does an amazing job at relaying experiences that teens can relate too, and that they might have even experienced themselves.

Author Bio/Information:

“Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Blubber; Just as Long as We’re Together; and the five book series about the irrepressible Fudge. She has also written three novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; and Wifey, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-one languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her” (“Judy Blume,” n.d.).

Ties to Curriculum Units: Sexual Education (could be used for a health course)

Booktalking Ideas:

Does Katherine take the right steps towards making this big step in life?

Challenging Issues:

This book has been challenged and banned a lot over the years. It was one of the first books for young adults that talks frankly and openly about sex. I would be prepared to tell adults that this novel promotes the idea of safe sex education. It is beneficial to teens because then they can be informed and smart about sex.

Novel: The Outsiders


Bibliographical Information:

Title- The Outsiders

Author- S.E. Hinton

ISBN- 0670532576

Publisher- Viking Press

Copyright- 1967

Genre(s): Young Adult, Classic YA, Coming of Age

Interest Age: 12 and up

Reader’s Annotation: Ponyboy Curtis, his brothers and his friends belong to the greaser group in their town and school. They must go against the current to grow up and find out who they are.

Plot Summary:

Ponyboy Curtis and his friends are part of the greasers, known for their long greasy hair. Ponyboy lives with his dropout brother Sodapop and his older brother Darry. The greasers consist of these 3, as well as Dallas, Steve, Two-Bit, and Johnny. Their rivals are the affluent Socs, who attack Ponyboy but he is saved by the greasers. Ponyboy and Johnny go to the movies and meet Cherry and Marcia (two Socs girls) and begin to talk with them. Their friend Dally comes and begins to annoy the girls. Ponyboy and Johnny begin to walk with the girls, and are confronted by Bob and Randy, their boyfriends.  The girls leave with them in order to stop the fight. Ponyboy gets home late, and gets in a fight with Darry. He leaves the house and decides to go to the park with Johnny. At the park, they are confronted once again by Bob and Randy and the Socs. Ponyboy blacks out, and wakes up to find that Johnny killed Bob. Terrified, the boys contact Dally and he sets them up in an abandoned church. There the boys disguise themselves. A rumble is planned between the Socs and greasers, and Dally tells the boys he will take them home. As they are leaving they find the church has caught on fire, and some children were in there. They rush to the rescue and both boys are hurt. Johnny is in critical condition because his back was broken. The boys are called heroes but Johnny still has to face responsibility for Bob’s death. Ponyboy and Darry makeup, and Ponyboy runs into Randy who claims he will not go to rumble because he is tired of the fighting. Ponyboy goes to visit Johnny in the hospital with Dally after the greasers win the rumble. Johnny dies and Dally runs out distraught. He robs a grocery store and raises a gun to police, and is shot down. Ponyboy suffered a concussion from an injury related to the rumble, he is acquitted of all things involved in Bob’s case. Ponyboy goes through a rough patch, but agrees to not fight with Darry. He begins to write a paper for class which begins with the beginning of the novel.

Critical Evaluation:

The Outsiders is one of my favorite all time books! This book really stands the test of time. I believe it was relevant to S.E. Hinton when she wrote it at 16, it was relevant when I read it as a freshman in high school, and it is still relevant today! I felt like I could connect with the “outsider” feelings the greasers felt. None of my “fights” ever got to rumble style but it is very realistic to what teens face, 50 years ago and today. S.E. Hinton created characters that are relatable and understandable.

Author Bio/Information:

“S.E. Hinton, was and still is, one of the most popular and best known writers of young adult fiction. Her books have been taught in some schools, and banned from others. Her novels changed the way people look at young adult literature.

Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has always enjoyed reading but wasn’t satisfied with the literature that was being written for young adults, which influenced her to write novels like The Outsiders. That book, her first novel, was published in 1967 by Viking” (Biography, n.d.).

Ties to Curriculum Units: History, Social relationships, Classic YA Literature

Booktalking Ideas:

What different types of “groups” are seen today?

What is the views from society of the greasers? Of the Socs?

Challenging Issues:

This book has been challenged and banned several times in the time since it has been published. I will be prepared to answer any questions regarding violence within this novel. I will explain how it is necessary to show the feelings between the greasers and the Socs. I will also explain that Ponyboy’s family life is realistic to how some teens are brought up, especially in today’s world. I will come prepared with reviews and testimonials to how The Outsiders has positively impacted the teens who have read it.


Biography. (n.d.). S.E. Hinton. Retrieved from