Roald Dahl’s arguably most widely known book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is fifty years old this year. Since its publication, countless children and parents have delighted in the humor, adventure, and imagination of the story. Many have waited breathlessly with Charlie Bucket to see a Golden Ticket inside the wrapper of his chocolate bar.
If one hasn’t read the book, it is almost impossible to have not seen either of the film adaptations that bring the mysterious and fantastical factory to life in brilliant Technicolor, trademark songs, and memorable visuals (Violet Beauregarde turning into a blueberry is my personal favorite). More than any of Dahl’s other works, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has permeated popular culture and even spawned a candy line named after the candy maker, Willy Wonka. In addition to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl’s books almost always feature a hero that the reader loves, adult villains who are truly that, and a bit of whimsy that make the world so much more magical. September 13 would have been Dahl’s 98th birthday. Thank you Mr. Dahl for your unique, terrifying, funny, and original stories.
BookKids staff share their thoughts about Dahl and his books.
Wildly funny, brilliantly imaginative, and shockingly irreverent, Roald Dahl’s books poke delicious fun at the rotten underbelly of humanity in all of its unkempt, selfish, gluttonous glory. Within his stories, decent children often face down horrible persecutors, usually resulting in seriously unappetizing consequences for the latter. And therein lies the genius of these stories, allowing us to both satisfy our noble desires for the good and pure to win the day and to indulge our less altruistic thirst for the wicked to meet deservedly horrid, darkly hilarious ends. Personal favorites:James and the Giant Peach and The Twits.
Mrs. Twit loves hitting children and animals. Mr. Twit loves playing nasty tricks on Mrs. Twit. I love a really funny, kind of snarky book with a happy ending, so this is the perfect book for me!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Greetings to you the lucky finder of this Golden Ticket from Mr. Willy Wonka! Inside the wonderful world of Wonka’s Chocolate Factory these are magnificent and mysterious astonishments around every corner. From a chocolate river to tasty treats of all flavors to tantalize your taste buds and unbelievable inventions not ready for the world to see. But a warning – do not underestimate the creations in Mr. Wonka’s factory for he will not be held liable for any unfortunate accidents. So get ready for the tour of a lifetime. In your wildest dreams you can not imagine the marvelous surprise that await you!
She’s no ordinary five year-old girl. A child prodigy, Matilda mostly goes unnoticed by her neglectful parents. Only her teacher, Miss Honey, appreciates Matilda’s rare gifts, which include telekinetic powers. Matilda must use her bravery and unique talents to save her school from the evil headmistress, but she must also escape her parents. A fantastic girl.
I can’t thank my mother enough for reading Roald Dahl’s books to me when I was a child. The pairing of his creepy hilarious stories with Quentin Blake’s quirky illustrations is a match made in strangeness. Look around you next time you’re out. Just to make sure none of the people around you are wearing gloves when it’s warm out, or wearing a wig. You never know, after all, witches are real . . .
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
I read a lot of Roald Dahl as a kid – Matilda and The Twits and The Witches – but it wasn’t until recently that I picked up some of his shorter stories. Recently I read The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, about a little boy whose favorite candy store is turned into The Ladderless Window Cleaning Company – a giraffe, a pelican, and a monkey. When he meets these magical talking window cleaning animals, he is drawn into an adventure with robbers, dukes, cherry trees, and more! What I love about Roald Dahl is that innate understanding of what children truly wish for. A girl who hates hunters can turn a family into ducks with a point of her finger. A lonely girl finds the magic in books and brings it to her every day life. And a boy who misses his local candy shop can befriend a wealthy duke and run a candy store himself.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
I have a very strong memory of being in the car with my parents and brother on our way back from, or on our way to, somewhere. It was dark out, cold, snow on the ground, and we were pulled over at a lonely gas station on some country road. We were listening to Fantastic Mr. Fox on cassette. I’m not sure if this was the first time we had listened to it or not, but whenever this story of a brave, smart, and determined fox came on, the four of us were quiet, still, and listened. I always liked how Mr. Fox gave those farmers their comeuppance, and was able to take care of his family and the other animals. We listened not only to Mr. Fox, but also James and Charlie on our many car trips. Roald Dahl was the reader of his books for the audio versions. Today, the versions are read by well-known actors, but the original Dahl-read versions are the ones I still hear in my memory.
Psst . . . want to know more about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Take a peek at this nonfiction account of the book, Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: The Complete Story of Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket, and Roald Dah’s Most Famous Creation. Find out more about Charlie’s background, creation, and history of the book in our culture.
And here’s a little lagniappe – a lost chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. According to the history of the book, there were more children who won Golden Tickets but with all of them meeting a gruesome end, they were cut out lest the book be too disturbing.
And for a sweet treat, take this little quiz to see how well you know Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.