I learned via and email from Random House this morning that today is Roald Dahl day, a day to celebrate mischief and mayhem (image to the left is from Random House). How appropriate for a Friday the 13th. The email urges us to "Visit
the official Roald Dahl site for ways to celebrate in your classroom or library
and learn about the man behind the stories: www.roalddahlday.info."
But personally, I just want to talk about my two favorite Dahl stories:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the first Roald Dahl book that I ever read, and I love it to this day. It both captures the childhood imagination and contains biting satire. Such a perfect blend! When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I learned to type. I practiced by copying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, sitting at the desk in my basement bedroom. I don't remember being bored for even a moment. Who wouldn't love (in regards to TV):
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY...USED...TO...READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
(You can read the full poem at the RoaldDahlFans.com site.)
Although it is somewhat different from the book (particularly the songs), I also love the movie. The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, of course, not the travesty of an unnecessary remake. What child of the 70's doesn't occasionally find herself humming: "Oompa loompa doompety-doo". (Full song lyrics here, if you want them.) And who hasn't dreamed of the chocolate waterfall?
My other favorite Dahl story is Matilda. I'll even go so far in Matilda's case as to say that the movie may be better than the book. But the book is lovely, too. My favorite part of the movie is when young Matilda visits the library, and sits there and reads and reads. The image of this tiny person waiting for the walk light so that she can be with the books that are as necessary as breathing, well, of course it resonates.
My husband and I have already introduced the movie to our three year old daughter. We were a bit worried that she would find it scary, but I think (and this is the beauty of Dahl) that it is so over-the-top that she finds it hilarious. She loves the part where the indifferent parents throw the baby seat loose into the back of the station wagon, so that it careens all over place. I think that witnessing the terrible parents that DeVito and Perlman bring to life so well makes her feel more satisfied with her own life. Or something.
But for me, Matilda is special because we share the eternal love of books, and the knowledge that books can take you anywhere. Happy Roald Dahl Day! (And than you Random House for the idea for this post.)
What are your favorite Dahl books? What will you do to celebrate Roald Dahl Day?
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#30 Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)
I loved that Dahl wrote completely for children. A kid reading Dahl knows he can make something or be someone or do something, no matter what anyone else around him says or does. – Heather Christensen
It just wouldn’t be right to make a list like this without Dahl. Last time, I included The Witches, my personal favorite as a child, but having just read Matilda to my daughter, I have to admit that this one is probably his best written book. – Mark Flowers
Matilda has the customary humor and bits of vileness that all of Dahl’s children’s books have that make them so fun and so true to life. It has loveliness and celebrates knowledge and reading. It has enthralling writing that you just want to devour and wonderful illustration. But most of all it has somebody to cheer for. Yes she has supernatural power, but in the end it’s Matilda’s sensibility and thoughtfulness, it’s just doing the right thing that leads to the take down of a horrible villain and encourages all the kids around her. She’s someone to root for. And it’s like eating candy, reading this book. One of the best storytellers of all time. You must read him, so why not start here? – Nicole Johnston
Those parents! The Trunchbull! What’s not to love? – Tracy Flynn
Watch out for the quiet ones.
It may surprise some to see Matilda standing higher on this list than poor modest Charlie Bucket. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that while most (not all) Dahl books starred boys of one stripe or another (George, James, Charlie, etc.) Matilda was the only gal to get her name front and center in the title. This is the closest Dahl ever got to a feminist vision, and little girls everywhere love them their Matilda. She was a kind of proto-Harry Potter complete with a nasty family and secret magical abilities. For a certain generation, Matilda was our Harry.
The plot description from the book reads, ” ‘The Trunchbull’ is no match for Matilda! Who put superglue in Dad’s hat? Was it really a ghost that made Mom tear out of the house? Matilda is a genius with idiot parents – and she’s having a great time driving them crazy. But at school things are different. At school there’s Miss Trunchbull, two hundred menacing pounds of kid-hating headmistress. Get rid of the Trunchbull and Matilda would be a hero. But that would take a superhuman genius, wouldn’t it?”
This could be all heresay and conjecture, but at a past ALA event I spoke with an editor who told me that Dahl’s original vision for Matilda was quite the opposite of the final product. By all accounts, Dahl wanted Matilda to be a nasty little girl, somewhat in the same vein of Belloc’s Matilda Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death. Revision after revision turned her instead into the sweet little thing we all know and love today. He retained her tendency towards revenge, however, and I think that’s another reason the book works as well as it does. In the end Matilda bore some similarities to James and the Giant Peach, though Dahl had the guts to go and make the actual parents in this book the bores, and not just mere aunties.
- In the book Revolting Recipes, there is a recipe for the chocolate cake The Trunchbull makes poor little Bogtrotter devour. That also happens to be my favorite scene, you know.
- True fan dedication.
Publishers Weekly said of it, “Adults may cringe at Dahl’s excesses in
a video from the episode of Community
where Troy meets his hero LeVar Burton I got a penchant for a little Reading Rainbow
. The universe, it appears, was happy to oblige. First off you have a woman that I would love to meet one day. If the name Twila Liggett fails to ring any bells, know only that amongst her many accomplishments she was the founder and executive producer of Reading Rainbow
back in the day. In the article Just Read Anything!
she writes a message to parents and teachers that’s pretty self-explanatory. If you can’t think of Reading Rainbow
without the aforementioned LeVar, however, the same website Happy Reading has a lovely interview
with the man. I’d love to meet LeVar myself, but I think my reaction would be a shade too similar to Troy’s.
- Mmm. Critical reviews. They’re important. I don’t do as many of them these days as I used to, but I try to work in at least a couple per year. Some bloggers don’t do them at all, and while I understand that I think it’s important to have a critical dialogue in the children’s literary blogosphere. That nice Justine Larbalestier author recently wrote a post called I Love Bad Reviews that covers this. She’s a gutsy gal, that one. I hope she writes a middle grade book one of these days (How to Ditch Your Fairy came close but wasn’t quite there). And if the research author Elizabeth Fama found in the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of Marketing Science is true, then “negative reviews of books of relatively unknown authors raised sales 45%.” So there you go, oh first time authors. It’s win-win!
- Along similar lines is this other snarky link. Personally I’ve nothing against Cassandra Clare. She was a lovely person that I got to meet at a Simon & Schuster preview once. Of course, I’ve never read a one of her books (she’s a YA writer) but bookshelves of doom gave a positive review to her City of Bones and I trust Leila. That said, I enjoyed Part One of the podcast Read It and Weep’s series on that same book (Part Two isn’t out as of this posting). Read It and Weep is a couple dudes and their guest host talking about books and various pop culture icons they dislike. I wouldn’t recommend the podcast for fans of the series, but if you’re curious about the book it can be amusing. Particularly since they will mention things they enjoyed, like the cat-related paging system. I think I’ll have to seek out their thoughts on Percy Jackson soon. Not Twilight, though. It’s been done.
- Everyone and their mother emailed me the amazing Aaron Renier
Blog: The Pen Stroke | A Publishing Blog
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, A Fuse #8 Production
, Billy Nuñez
, Chrystal Chan
, Elizabeth Bird
, Goldilocks and the Three Bears
, Heidi Kellenberger
, Mary Anne Donovan
, Oak Island — A Tale of Two Treasures
, Uncovered Cover Art
, Add a tag
What am I reading now? Oak Island — A Tale of Two Treasures by Mary Donovan
The children’s literature blogosphere is expanding on a daily basis. As a result, every once in a while I stumble upon a site that’s a true gem. Elizabeth Bird, of a A Fuse #8 Production, gushed about Uncovered Cover Art in her latest edition of Fusenews.
The creator of the site, editor Heidi Kellenberger, describes the it as “a sketchbook of reimagined children’s books.” Uncovered Cover Art combines two of the things that I absolutely love: art and children’s literature. The creativity and imagination these talented artists possess is truly spectacular. Kellenberger says of the site,
Uncovered Cover Art is a celebration of creativity, children’s literature, and art.
This is for you.
This is for artists who want to show off their passion for illustrating
This is for art directors looking for artists, wondering if the editorial work in
Hot New Thing’s portfolio will transfer to children’s book illustration.
This is for agents on the lookout for new talent.
This is for children’s book lovers who stay up late imagining the faces of Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, and Little Red Riding Hood.
But, wait, the fun doesn’t stop there. Kellenberger is giving her audience the opportunity to participate in the launch of Uncovered Cover Art by casting their vote. “The three most popular artists will receive a copy of Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration.” Voting is currently underway and ends on Tuesday, August 30, 2011.”
A couple of my favourite pieces are Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Billy Nuñez and Matilda by Chrystal Chan. What are some of yours?
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as of 1/1/1900
And then it’s February. How the heckedy heck did that happen? Looks like 2012 is already establishing itself as the Blink and You’ll Miss It year. Well, let’s get to it then.
First and foremost was the announcement of Battle of the Books 2012. Or, as I like to think of it, the place where Amelia Lost gets its bloody due (if there’s any justice in this world). We’re now in the earliest of the early days of the battle, but stuff’s on the horizon. I can smell it.
- In other news there was an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) meeting here in New York this past weekend. I didn’t attend because, apparently, if it’s way too convenient I’m absent. After checking out the recap on this blog, however, I clearly need to change my priorities. Though I had to miss the cocktail party on Friday I did attend Kidlit Drink Night which was PACKED, dudes. Packed to the gills!
- In her post Ms. Turner mentions the Mythopoeic Society. By complete coincidence I stumbled over yet another link involving that society in question. Neil Gaiman reprints an old speech he gave to the society in 2004 on C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Chesterton. A great look at how good fantasy can influence kids. Also a good look at how bad television programs lead kids to books. I believe it.
- Well The Today Show may have passed up the chance to talk to the Newbery and Caldecott winners but leave it to NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me to speak to Jack Gantos for their Not My Job game. Someone must have tipped them off to the fact that the man is the world’s greatest interview. Love the Judy Blume reference. And though I thought I knew his Hole in My Life story, clearly I missed some details. Thanks to Susan Miles for the link.
- Of course Jack and Chris Raschka were interviewed by SLJ about their respective wins. That’s good news about a Dead End in Norvelt companion novel. Ditto the idea of Raschka working on a Robie H. Harris title.