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The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

2014, first published 1974  

The story is set in a Catholic boys’ school. In the introduction to this edition Robert Cormier describes tis as “a metaphor for the world” (vii).  Certainly he offers the reader much to think about in how power shifts within society. The Vigils control both the masters and the boys and yet establish a type of harmony.  This isn’t always easy and in this case ends in violence.      

The language is quite sophisticated in this novel so readers may need to study the text rather than read it for pleasure.  Nevertheless Cormier establishes a good narrative balance and gives a strong voice to the young adults involved. 

The text isn’t that easy to read. It has a huge cast. The boys are known by their first or their second name or both and it is easy to think that one character is three people. The masters are sometimes named just by their name and sometime as Brother. Where the name alone is used one can mistake them for students.     

The point of view shifts frequently, often mid-chapter. 

The book is 274 pages long with most of the chapters being short though there are one or two longer ones.   


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Hilary McKay’s Fairy Tales

2017, fluent reader, Key Stage 2, ages 9-11, upper primary
Here are some familiar fairy stories though the titles may fool you: Rapunzel becomes The Tower and the Bird, Rumpelstiltskin becomesStraw into Gold, and Cinderella is Roses Around the Palace. We are also offered some rather interesting details about some well-known stories. The mayor of the town with the rats tells us how the children who replaced the lost ones were much more amenable than the ones who were piped away. A young girl has a sliver of the looking-glass that once belonged to a wicked queen.Whilst the girl has chickenpox her grandmother tells her Snow White’s story. It is true she assures her granddaughter. How does she know? Because she is Snow White. Hansel and Gretel tell the story of what they did in their holidays.
There is perhaps an assumption that the reader will be familiar with the original stories. Certainly they are amusing and not just for the young reader.Adults can enjoy them too. 
This is quite a …