Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy 100th Roald Dahl!

On Tuesday, September 13th the world will rejoice in celebrating the 100th birthday of one of the most imaginative minds in children's literature, Roald Dahl. The British writer was born in 1916 in Cardiff. Now 100 years later we can look back on the amazing works of Dahl with glee as we remember a very fantastic fox, a young girl who loved books, a giant who was incredibly friendly, and of course a candy maker who stuck up for Oompa Loompa rights as well as let five children into his factory for one incredible contest prize. If you are looking to celebrate Dahl's birthday check out the party pack by following this link: Included in is pack are game sheets, crafts, and instructions on how to figure out your Roald Dahl name! Darla and I couldn't help but reflect on some of our first memories of this writer whose characters were so deliciously crazy!

The Whoopsy-splunkers MUGGLE-WOMP aka Derek

My jealousy of Violet's
gummy bear still lives!
My first memory of the universe of Roald Dahl is not from the books, but from the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" starring the late great Gene Wilder. While by my aunt's house for Easter dinner my older cousin's were flipping out that they would be showing this movie on TV. It was a childhood favorite of theirs. Once I admitted that I had never seen it they made me sit front and center on the coach and watch. I was immediately enchanted by everything I was seeing. So many grandparents in one bed! Lettuce soup! Why was his mother's laundry spoon so big? Why did the candy man give out free candy during the musical number to the rich kids yet was so staunch when it came to the quarter Charlie owed for his scrumdiddlyumptious bar? All these questions stemmed from only the first twenty minutes of the movie. I still want a giant gummy bear and am keeping my fingers crossed that fizzy lifting drink will soon be a reality. I am willing to hire someone to clean the ceiling! 

The version I read
from my school library
After begging my mother for the movie on VHS I found the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in my school library. That winter vacation from school had me delving even further into Willy and Charlie's world. The movie had only skimmed the surface. Charlie had a father who worked in a tooth paste factory! Grandpa Joe was just as lazy! Veruca wasn't a bad egg like in the movie - she was actually a nut! Wonka had squirrels to de-shell all the nuts for his candy bars and they grabbed Veruca and threw her down the hole! Hilarious! Not to mention at the end we get a glimpse of the bad kids as the are leaving the factory in their new forms including a taffy stretched Mike Teevee. Dahl had such an amazing way of taking sometimes crazy, scary, horrible, and honestly messed up things and making it so wonderful and fun that kids can't get enough. I can't even go into my love of Matilda, an outcast who found solace in books! Not to mention the giant chocolate cake in that one... Yes, Dahl lured me over to his zany world with imagination, sweets, and kindness. It was paradise!

The Whoopsy-Splunkers BLABBERSNITCH aka Darla

Image result for esio trot
The details are a little fuzzy when it comes to my first Roald Dahl memory. When I first started to consider it my mind jumped to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - but then I realized that wasn’t right. I “met” Roald Dahl in third grade, and I can’t quite remember why. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Charmin, who was a one-year exchange teacher from England and whom I loved, gave everyone a book. Or something. I’m not sure! It may have been one of those classroom transactions where you get something for being good, or maybe it was a very kind goodbye gift. Either way, I got Esio Trot, the book where a cranky old man makes his pet tortoise grow by saying the magic words (which is tortoise backwards, of course) and finds love along the way. It’s almost definitely still in my box of childhood books in the garage, and maybe now that I’m thinking about it I’ll dig it out tonight. I read it over and over again because it was mine and my teacher gave it to me, two things that recommend a book highly when you’re eight. 

The only picture of the inside of the book I could find
It didn’t take me very long to plough through the rest of Dahl’s books after that, and The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were my other favorites. Northport Library used to have (maybe still does have?) a Dahl-inspired cookbook, Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, and I remember checking it out over and over and over again, which was ridiculous because I only ever made one thing from it: some kind of terrible hot butterscotch drink . The recipe I wanted to make was this magical-looking edible marshmallow pillow, but I was completely intimidated by the process. I should really see about checking it out one of these days and trying it. Edible pillow party, anyone? All of this goes to show the funny ways that an author’s work leaves different kinds of marks on us. For a lot of my friends, Matilda and her love of reading is their go-to Dahl memory. For me it’s a slightly intimidating cookbook that he didn’t even write. And yet we love him just the same!

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