Roald Dahl was born on this day in 1916. He was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter ace and screenwriter of Norwegian parentage. Born in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales, to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander. He rose to prominence in the 1940s with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's bestselling authors. His short stories are known for their unexpected endings, and his children's books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour.
Some of his better-known works include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox, Matilda, The Witches, and The BFG.
Recently Penguin released a book featuring some of Roald Dahl's writings that have never been published in book form before. Here is my review of this delightful book.
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Ages 8 and up
Penguin, 2010, 978-0-14-241742-3
Once upon a time, an author called Roald Dahl wrote a book about a boy who goes to a chocolate factory. He falls into a vat of chocolate and is turned into a chocolate figure. Wait a minute…that’s not how it goes! No, it isn’t, but that is how Roald Dahl first wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After many revisions, he ended up with the story that so many of us know and love. However, before that came about, Roald Dahl had to make a lot of changes, and this included cutting out several characters from the story. He began with “ten horrid little boys and girls,” and ended up with the five that have since become famous: Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teavee, and Charlie Bucket. He originally called the little people living in the factory Whipple-Scrumpets. Later this name was changed to Oopa-Loopas. He had a whole chapter about “Spotty Powder” that never made it into the book.
In this fact-filled book, Roald Dahl fans will find out all kinds of things about Roald Dahl’s famous book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In addition, there are musings from Dahl about the months of the year, scrumptious facts about chocolate, and a recipe for Mr. Wonka’s Strawberry-flavored Chocolate-coated Fudge. There is a list of Roald Dahl’s favorite things, a chapter about Quentin Blake (who illustrated many of Roald Dahl’s books), and excerpts from young Roald’s school reports – which are quite shocking! Readers will find out what Roald Dahl thought of chocolate, Roald Dahl’s secret writing tips, and what he thought of Quentin Blake. And there’s more!
In short, this book is a must for anyone who likes Roald Dahl’s books. Be prepared to be amused, excited, and, of course, gobsmacked.