Roald Dahl Books Take You On A Magical Journey Through The Imagination.
As a 30 something year old man, I grew up reading the works of Roald Dahl. His writing, so clever and imaginative means his stories are equally as entertaining as any other books in their genre some 50 odd years later. I have collated a list of my all time favourites, in no particular order.
The BFG (1982)
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Sophie was an orphan with a pretty boring life. That is until she was kidnapped by the B.F.G. (the Big Friendly Giant)! “A big friendly giant?!?”, you may be asking yourself! Well, yes! He is different from all the other giants…
Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984)
Dahl’s hilarious, terrifying and sometimes melancholy recollections of growing up during the 1920s and ’30s depict a world that has now largely disappeared, though his anecdotes have lost none of their ability to delight, shock and amaze. His mastery of language makes his world your world…
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
I have heard some people say that when they reread a childhood favourite, they find it smaller and more disappointing than expected. Well not me! I’ve read the book many times since those initial evenings with my dad and still think it’s wonderful, which either means I have the literary appreciation of a four year old, or that I was a four year old with very good taste!
One thing I can however do now, which I could not do when I was four, is say precisely what makes this book, published 50 years ago last year, such a classic.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is in many ways a modern (or at least early 20th century) fairy tale. It begins with Charlie Bucket and his large family, including four grandparents living on the edge of a small town in a state of desperate poverty. Charlie’s grandpa Jo tells him stories of the wonderful Mr. Willy Wonka, the legendary chocolate maker…
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (1972)
An elevator which travels into space, shape-shifting aliens, a floating hotel, wonka-vites that will take you to Minusland? There is only one author that can create such magic. Roald Dahl, of course.
As a child, I remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and immediately wanting to read the sequel. But how could any book follow the mouth-watering, delightful world of the chocolate factory? The gobstoppers, Veruca Salt, Mike TV?
However, this wild romp begins right where Charlie and his family left off – inside the glass elevator – and continues to take the reader up, up and beyond…
Danny, the Champion of the World (1975)
I got this book in 1988, when I was eight or nine years old, and it was a dear favourite of mine. The story of Danny and his fantastic dad, and their life in the old gypsy caravan by the petrol pumps and garage – it was at once a whole new other world, and something very near and dear to me.
Danny is raised by his dad, a mechanic and Danny’s hero. They live in a colourful wooden caravan under a large apple tree, serving petrol and fixing cars. Danny’s father teaches him all about cars and how to fix them, and Danny is a great help in the garage. At night his dad tells him fabulous stories, and when Danny starts school at seven, his dad walks him there and back every day. Danny has the best life, and he loves his dad more than anything.
Then one night Danny wakes up to find his dad missing…
Fantastic Mr Fox (1968)
Mr. Fox is in the habit of stealing food for himself and his family from three nearby farmers: chickens from Boggis, ducks and geese from Bunce, and turkeys from Bean. But \”all three of them were about as nasty and mean as any men you could meet.\” Resenting Mr. Fox’s thefts, they join forces to kill him.
First they lie in wait outside his den and manage to wound him. Then they begin digging to catch him and his family, first with shovels, and then with machines. Finally they decide to starve him out. But that’s when Mr. Fox gets a brilliant idea.
While this is a very slight story — clever fox outwits mean farmers — it provides lots to talk about…
George’s Marvellous Medicine (1981)
George’s grandma is a grizzly, grumpy, selfish old woman with pale brown teeth and a small puckered-up mouth like a dog’s bottom. Four times a day she takes a large spoonful of thick brown medicine, but it doesn’t seem to do her any good. She’s always just as horrid after she’s taken it as she was before. So when George is left alone to look after her one morning, it’s just the chance he needs…
Going Solo (1986)
The book starts off when Roald Dahl is sailing on the S.S Mantola to Africa, the onset of his life as a Shell worker. On the way he meets many extraordinary people and sees new feats. He befriends the dotty major and his wife on the ship and sees a lion carrying his host’s cook’s wife away in his mouth. He sees the snake man in action as he silently creeps into a house to catch the fatal green mamba. A crash in the desert hurts his head and brings out many problems in his flying days in Greece. Of course, you would get scared and you would wet your pants in the second half if you were not ready for the stunts of the RAF daredevils…
James and the Giant Peach (1961)
The plot ofJames And The Giant Peach is one that I totally remember months after reading, heck even years after reading this for the first time. Basically James lives with the meanest aunts ever, because his parents died when he was very, very young. One day, he obtains some magical crystals, I think, and accidentally spills them on this peach tree. From there, a peach grows to be the biggest ever seen. His awful Aunts Spiker and Aunt Sponge decide to charge admission to people wanting to see the peach and let James see none of the profits. THEN James ends up crawling inside of the peach, meets some human sized bugs and is rolling off into the horizon to better days. And really, that’s the story, well plus his journey with the peach…
The Magic Finger (1966)
The main character is a girl who is eight years old and she lives in a farm, next to Gregg’s farm. This family loves going for hunting and especially Mr. Gregg, Philip and William who go every Saturday morning. One day someone kill a deer and the girl gets cross, very angry and she sees red because she hates killing animals just for fun. And when this happens… a quick flash jumps out of her magic finger and touches the person who made her cross. In this case it is the whole of Gregg’s family, even Mrs. Gregg and when they go hunting the very next day something strange happens!..
Matilda is an extraordinarily gifted four-year-old whose parents a crass, dishonest used-car dealer and a self-centered, blowsy BINGO addict regard her as “nothing more than a scab.” Life with her beastly parents is bearable only because Matilda teaches herself to read, finds the public library, and discovers literature. Also, Matilda loves using her lively intelligence to perpetrate daring acts of revenge on her father. This pastime she further develops when she enrolls in Crunchem Hall Primary School, whose headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is “a fierce tyrannical monster . . . .”
The Twits (1980)
“Mr. Twit was a twit. He was born a twit. And now at the age of sixty, he was a bigger twit than ever.” That goes for Mrs. Twit too. But twit, which is a funny word, seems scarcely adequate for the two villainous people described by Roald Dahl with such relish. Not to mention ketchup, spinach and minced chicken livers, all of which cling to Mr. T.’s revolting beard. That is just one of many details, Mrs. T.’s ugliness is another, carefully catalogued in the opening pages of this book.
The Witches (1983)
This Roald Dahl classic tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale of a seven-year-old boy who has a run-in with some real-life witches! “In fairy tales witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. REAL WITCHES
A full list of Roald Dahl’s titles can be found at www.roalddahl.com.
Looking for a great teen read? Check out my novel Sidon Charm, The Book of Mysteries.
Book cover images from www.amazon.com.