Subscribe to The Horn Book

Excerpt from The Chocolate Games

The Chocolate Games

Illustration: Jose-Luis Olivares

“Hi, Mum! Hi, Pop!” Mike squeaks as he hops from the screen onto the table. “Look at me! I’m the first boy sent by television!”

Mrs. Teavee shrieks. “You’re an inch tall! Oh, my sweet boy!”

“Sweet?” Grandpa Joe whispers to me. “He blew Violet to bits!”

True, Mike did chuck his flinty Everlasting Gobstopper at the ballooning, purple Violet, popping her and splattering blueberry juice, sugary blood, and bile all over the Inventing Room. But Violet was hardly a sweetie. She was, after all, the one who had shoved Veruca into a mob of vicious, mutant squirrels and happily snapped her gum as the gnawed Princess of Nuts slid down the garbage chute. Of course, Veruca herself had previously kicked Augustus squarely in his generous lederhosen, dumping him into the churning chocolate river that led to his being swirled into fudge. (I regret ever having eaten a morsel manufactured in this place.)

Yet I find it difficult to condemn my fellow contestants for their assorted cruelties. Our sadistic host, who at present is suppressing snickers as he unapologetically consoles Mrs. Teavee, lured us all like Hansels and Gretels into this gingerbread house of horrors. If anyone here lacks sweetness, it is Mr. Willy Wonka, demon chocolatier. When this bloody contest concludes and I claim my prize, I will personally see to it that he receives his just desserts.

We were five ticket-holders this morning; now the remaining lone obstacle separating me from my prize has been greatly, er, reduced — to the size of a gummy bear, in fact. The humane thing would be to put wee Mike out of his misery. At least this is how I rationalize the heinous crime I am about to commit.

I reach into my tattered pocket and silently commend myself for having scooped up some of the treats I found behind the door marked EXPLODING CANDY FOR YOUR ENEMIES. I select a weapon disguised as a tiny yellow butter mint. It ought to be sufficient to take out a target so small.

“Go on, Charlie, finish the job,” Grandpa Joe says, nudging me with his bony elbow. “Then it’s one last moralistic Oompa-Loompa song and we’ve won.”

I nod, bracing myself for the blast, and lob the mint.

From the January/February 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. For more in our Fan Week series, click on the tag Fan Week 2016 and see #HBFanWeek on Twitter.

Patrick Jennings About Patrick Jennings

Patrick Jennings's latest book is Lucky Cap (Egmont).



  1. Love this!

  2. That was splendid.

  3. I was half-expecting a mash-up of The Chocolate War and The Hunger Games, but that wouldn’t have been as funny.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.


  1. […] a Comment SLJ has been maintaining a page for Hunger Games content and links; also take a look at our excerpt from Patrick Jennings’ forthcoming  Chocolate Games and this smart piece over at Salon. /* Filed Under: Read Roger Tagged With: Girls reading, […]

Speak Your Mind