September 13th marks the birthday of one of the world’s most popular authors – Roald Dahl – and a day of literary celebration to remember his wonderful stories.I doubt children’s literature would be basking in such a marvellously modern Golden Age had it not been for Dahl’s contributions. While stories had been funny and even satirical before his books hit the shelves, perhaps they had never dared be so dark. When Dahl’s books were first published, many literary professionals didn’t approve of his plots, of his horrendous (but hilarious) comeuppance to his villains, of the power he gave to his child heroes/heroines. But, by golly, the children lapped it up… and still do.
Image from http://www.childrenswebmagazine.com
Holly and I discussed Roald Dahl’s books today. We’ve read everything he has written for children, except The Witches, which Holly cannot bring herself to read or listen to. It frightens her too much. I have read it and enjoyed it but can understand her fear – Dahl blends the terrifying witches so skilfully into a ‘real’ world that it just seems too plausible that they could be lurking somewhere.
We talked about our favourites while walking today. Holly’s is The BFG, because it was the first book she had ever read by him and she loved the language that was so particular to it, such as snozzcumbers, and the way that the BFG talks, with things being ‘left not right’ instead of wrong or right.
image from en.wikipedia.org
Matilda is my favourite of Dahl’s. I loved how she overcame her neglectful parents and used her brains and talents to get the life she not only wanted but deserved. The portrayal of her family’s stupidity is wickedly humorous and Mrs Trunchbull must be one of the best villains around. How Matilda uses her skills, in a kind of Stephen-King’s-Carrie way, is original and has the reader cheering on.
Image from http://weknowwearecute.undebug.org
I asked Holly if there were any books she wasn’t so keen on. Interestingly we both chose Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Despite the fact we both liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory we just felt the sequel never matched the magic of the original. It seemed a little too surreal and lacking in the ingredients that make a Roald Dahl book so easily identifiable.
‘However,’ Holly remarked, ‘Even though I wasn’t so keen on that, I didn’t dislike it. I don’t think I dislike any of his books. They’re just too good.’
So Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl, and Happy Roald Dahl Day to you all. We hope you have a whizzpopping time!
Image from http://www.abebooks.com
If you want to find out more about this great writer, why not visit the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre?
Over to you!
What’s your favourite Roald Dahl book? Please let us know!