Henry Green is a boy who loves chocolate. He likes it bitter, sweet, dark, light, and daily; for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks; in cakes, candy bars, milk, and every other form you can possibly imagine. Henry probably loves chocolate more than any boy in the history of the world. One day-it starts off like any other day-Henry finds that strange things are happening to him. First he makes medical history with the only case of Chocolate Fever ever. Then he finds himself caught up in a wild and hilarious chase, climaxed by a very unusual hijacking!
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About the Author
It would take 30 years for his dream to become a reality. He embarked on his writing career in 1970 after leaving the advertising business. But as Smith himself described it, his foray into writing books began entirely by accident, and he credits his daughter with getting him started. It seems that one night he was making up a bedtime story for his daughter, Heidi. As he was spinning his yarn, it began to grow and grow and take on a life of its own. Heidi urged him to finish the story, which ultimately became his first book, Chocolate Fever. Heidi must have known that there was something delicious about that story, because Chocolate Fever went on to sell almost two million copies.
But, ideas for books don't always come that easily. Ideas come to Smith from life experiences, from things that happened to him personally or from things that happened to people he knew. Jelly Belly was drawn from his own childhood, when he was the fattest child in the fifth grade. The War with Grandpa garnered 11 state awards (five within one six-week period!). Mostly Michael was written for some fifth graders who asked Smith to write about an "average" kid who doesn't like school. According to Smith, he wrote The Squeaky Wheel because he wanted kids to know that there was life after parents divorce, and that kids have to speak up for their rights. Though told with humor, it is a powerful book that won the Parents' Choice award for Story Books.
Some authors are highly structured, outlining every step of a book's process. But Smith starts with a hero, an opening situation, and a loose idea of where the story will go. "I don't want to know everything; that would be too boring for me. So in a sense, I am discovering the story along with my characters," says Smith.
The message he wants to convey to children with his books is simple but fundamental: "Get the most out of yourself, enjoy life, and be good to people along the way." He says that he also writes about making moral choices, without lecturing his readers. Smith says, "I think I wrote Chocolate Fever just to say ‘you can't have everything every time you want,' which is a basic truth except for the IRS." But, there is a far more basic reason that Smith writes books: "My secret agenda is to create books so entertaining that the kids get hooked on reading, particularly boys, who need help."
Robert Kimmel Smith lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Claire in a big old Victorian house. They have two grown children: Heidi and Roger. Robert and Claire love to cook, and both are fanatical baseball fans. They go to the movies and the theater. Smith plays tennis, swims, gardens, and tries not to gain weight.
Robert Kimmel Smith's works include: Chocolate Fever, Jelly Belly, Mostly Michael, The War with Grandpa, The Squeaky Wheel. In addition to writing award-winning books for children, Smith has written short stories and plays, as well as the script for the television production of Chocolate Fever for "CBS Story Break."
Read an Excerpt
An Excerpt from Chocolate Fever
Can you imagine a boy having a chocolate-bar sandwich as an after-school
snack? Well, Henry did, just about every day. And when he ate mashed potatoes,
just a few drops of chocolate syrup swished through seemed to make them
taste a lot better. Chocolate sprinkles sprinkled on top of plain buttered
noodles were tasty, too. Not to mention a light dusting of cocoa on things
like canned peaches, pears, and applesauce.
In the Greens' kitchen pantry there was always a giant supply of chocolate
cookies, chocolate cakes, chocolate pies, and chocolate candies of every
kind. There was ice cream, too. Chocolate, of course, and chocolate nut,
chocolate fudge, chocolate marshmallow, chocolate swirl, and especially
chocolate almond crunch. And all of it was just for Henry.
If there was one thing you could say about Henry it was that he surely did
love chocolate. "Probably more than any boy in the history of the world,"
his mother said.
"How does Henry like his chocolate?" Daddy Green would sometimes joke.
"Why, he likes it bitter, sweet, light, dark, and daily."
And it was true. Up until the day we're talking about right now.