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Daniel Pozmanter

Daniel Pozmanter

Why Do You Call Me Chocolate Boy?

Author:  Carol Parker   Illustrator:  Nan Barter

Publishing Info: Boothbay Harbor, ME : Gull Crest, c1993


1.  Brian punches Joey after "Joey and his friends" push him, and call him "Chocolate Boy" again.  Was it ok for Brian to punch Joey?  Was it ok for Joey to push Brian?  When is it ok to punch someone?  Is it ok if some is punching you or a friend?  Is it ok if they say something mean?  Is it ever ok?

2.  When Brian gets home his mother has a "serious face".  Can a face be serious?  If a person's face is serious, does that mean they are serious?  Can a person have a happy face, and feel sad or angry or bored?  Can you tell if someone feels happy when their face is angry?

3.  Brian's Mother says "fighting isn't the answer."  Isn't the answer to what?  To Joey pushing Brian?  To Joey not letting Brian play baseball?  To Joey calling Brian "Chocolate Boy"?  What do you think the answer is?  Brian's Mother later says "Walking away from a problem doesn't make it go away".  She's not leaving us with many options! If you cannot fight or run away, what can you do?  How can you walk away from a problem?  Would flying away from a problem on a plane work if walking wouldn't?

4.  "Mama had spoken!".  When Brian's Mother wants him to do something, it gets done! Brian later said he "knew it would do no good to tell her" he didn't want to go to school. If your parents want you to do something you don't want to do, can you still do it?  Why would your parents want you to do something, if you don't want to do it?

5.  When the school counselor comes to talk to the class, she starts to talk about what "some of [the kids]" did.  Although she doesn't say Brian's name, his "face got hot".  Why was Brian embaressed?  Did anyone else in the class know the counselor was talking about Brian?

6.  The school counselor asks Joey "how would you feel if someone did that to you?". Should you only treat others the way you want to be treated?  Why?  What if you wanted to eat pizza, but pizza makes a friend of yours sick.  Should you give your friend a piece of pizza?

7.  The school counselor says racism is treating someone badly because of their skin color.  Is it ok to treat someone well because of their skin color?  Is it ok to treat someone badly for reasons other than skin color?  Do you treat people differently because of how old they are?  How tall they are?  What color their eyes or hair are?  Why do you think you do?  Do you think it is ok to treat people differently because of how they look?  Why?  What about how strong people are?  Can you think of when it is ok?  Can you think of when it isn't ok?

8.  Miss Burton says "We need to learn more about one another so that we can begin to understand and respect each other".  Do you respect someone if you understand them? How can one person understand another?  Do you understand someone if you know what they are saying?  If you know what they will do next?  If you know about their family or where they came from?

9.  When Brian gets home, he says his day was "good and bad".  Can something be good and bad at the same time?  How?  If something tastes good (like ice cream), but is bad for you (upsets your stomach), is it good or bad?  If something hurts you at first (like a shot), but helps you later (keeps you from getting the measles), is it good or bad?

10.  Brian talks about slavery.  Slavery still exists in some parts of the world today. While Brian talks, it is clear slavery is wrong.  Why does it still exist?  When Joey is mean to Brian, Joey's friends just stand by and laugh, and help push Brian.  Everyone else outside just stand by and do nothing.  Why didn't they help?  Is it harder to help if no one else if helping?  Why?  If you saw someone being hurt, would you step in and help?  Why or why not?  Would it be easier if someone else helped with you?  Why?

11.  The books ends on a hopeful note.  Brian and Joey become friends.  When someone is mean to you, it can be hard to forgive them, and even harder to try to be friends with them.  Why?  If the person apologizes, does that help?  Why?  When Joey offered to play ball with Brian, did he make up for calling him "Chocolate Boy", and not letting him play ball?  If someone takes something from you, do they have to give it back to be forgiven?  Brian accepts Joey's offer.  What does this tell you about Brian?  Why?  What does this tell you about Joey?  Why?

12.  Think of your friends.  Why do you like them?  Are they the same as you?  Exactly the same?  Do you need to have something in common with someone to be their friend?  Is your friend different?  How?  Do you like being different?  Do you like everything about your friend?  Differences can be a source of friendship (you like someone who is good at telling jokes), or a source of resentment (someone does not like the games you like to play).  Why are some differences good, and others bad?



Guidelines For Discussion

            The questions I have written are to be taken as suggestions.  These provide possible ways of stimulating discussion pertaining to the various philosophical themes and problems presented in the three books ("Space Case", "Why Do You Call Me Chocolate Boy?", and "Wild Girl & Gran").  Given this, if I were to offer any advice on using these questions, I would say be prepared to drop them and any planned topics you have in order to follow the natural flow of discussion.  While the ideas presented in these books are important, they are not nearly so important as the cognitive skills being developed by philosophical debate.  If a discussion on how one would be able to tell if someone was alive or not becomes a discussion on whether or not anything can really last forever, then just go with that discussion.  Beyond that mild suggestion I cannot offer any other guidelines than the questions I have provided, and the obvious proposal that you read these three wonderful books.