My ‘a month of’ best reads of children’s fiction would be incomplete without a mention to the great Roald Dahl. His stories are loved by children and adults alike through the world and many have been made into blockbuster movies.
Read as a child, I recently read a couple of Roald Dahl books again and I found that I loved them just as much, and they are one of many books I will be buying when we decide to start a family. They are simply a must for every child’s bookshelf. (Or you could borrow them from your local library).
Writing for children is notoriously difficult by Roald Dahl manages it with ease.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This best loved story has come to the silver screen several times, but I haven’t read it for a long time, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact it’s much better than the movies. I’m not going to say much but I am going to quote one ‘song’ for Mike Teavee, of which I have already blogged, but it’s so great that’ll I’ll post it again.
The Song for Mike Teavee
‘The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Them near your television set –Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched the gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyes on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotized by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink –
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYTALE!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK – HE ONLY SEES!
“All right!” you’ll cry. “All right!” you’ll say,
What shall we do to entertain“
But if we take the set away,
Our darling children! Please explain!”
We’ll answer this by asking you,
“What used the darling ones to do?
How used they keep themselves contented
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!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and hales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr Tod, the dirty rotter,
And squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland
And Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and –
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr Rat ad Mr Role –
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Thos children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks –
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start – oh boy, oh joy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean.
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
P.S. Regarding Mike Teaevee,
We very much regret that we
Shall simply have to wait and see
If we can get him back his height.
But if we can’t – it serves him right.’
George’s Marvellous Medicine
Now I can’t remember actually reading this one as a child – I have got a feeling that I probably will have done but I couldn’t really remember. This is wonderfully silly. I loved reading this and found it very funny (and silly). This will definitely be super popular with children. A definite must if you love a silly, well-written read.
The BFG is one of my favorites. I love the way Dahl writes the BFG’s speech, and it is a lovely idea about the nature and origin of dreams. As a child when I read it I so wanted to be Sophie (not an orphan obviously) but being friends with someone wonderfully interesting as the BFG himself and being a part of his strange world and helping him collect dreams. Simply wonderful.