“If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
– Roald Dahl
Most people don’t even think giants exist and those that do are usually very afraid of them. However, the Big Friendly Giant or the BFG doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Sophie is an orphan who first meets the BFG while looking out her window at night. The BFG notices and reaches through her window to take her away, since nobody would believe her if she said she saw a giant. Soon Sophie realizes that the BFG is friendly and has no plans to eat her, instead he was out at night putting dreams with his long trumpet into children’s ears. It’s not always pleasant, because the BFG is the smallest among other giants who desire to eat human beans every night. When the large and revolting giants are out eating human beans, the BFG captures dreams and stores thousands into jars. Sophie learns where the giants plan to find their next meal and the BFG and her form a plan to stop them before it’s too late.
The BFG has all the standard humor, fun, and zany words that are unique to Roald Dahl. So far I haven’t been disappointed by one of his books. I’m sure you’ll wish you also knew a giant, well at least a friendly one.
The Witches is another wonderful book by Roald Dahl that is sure to delight many readers. The story begins with a young boy who is orphaned when his parents die in a terrible car accident. In their will, the boy is to be cared for by his Norwegian grandmother who is an expert at how to identify witches. She explains that witches are not what people typically think, such as they don’t wear black hats or ride broomsticks. His grandmother states that witches instead appear like ordinary women with ordinary jobs. This is a witch’s motto: One child a week is fifty-two a year, Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear. Throughout the book, the boy learns more about how to distinguish a witch from a normal woman. His grandmother and him stay at a hotel during the summer and this is when the fun really begins. He had a pet mouse that he tried to teach tricks well the hotel manager was very upset to have a mouse running around. The boy sneaked into an empty room that stated ‘Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’, so it must be a safe place to train his pet mouse. Suddenly women enter the room and he soon learns that they are actually not normal women at all, but witches. I’ll let you discover what happens next.
I highly enjoyed this Roald Dahl book. I believe even adults will get a laugh. The book had me guessing what would happen next and if the boy could save the day.
I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator picks up right where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory concludes. Charlie has won the chocolate factory prize and is now in the glass elevator with his entire family. Inside the great glass elevator are Charlie, Mr. Willy Wonka, Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina, and Mr. and Mrs. Bucket. They are riding high into space. Along the way, they encounter Vermicious Knids, Gnoolies, a space hotel, a strange communication with the President of the United States, unique vitamins that increase and decrease your age, and more crazy adventures with Mr. Willy Wonka. I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory more, but you’re in for another delightful Roald Dahl treat with this book.
And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
- Roald Dahl
by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Ages 8+, 96 pages
Fantasy & Humor
Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the ugliest, dirtiest, and smelliest people in the world. Mr. Twit has a very hairy beard that he never cleans and everything attaches onto the hairs. Mrs. Twit has the ugliest face ever, because she constantly has ugly thoughts. At the start of the book, Mr. and Mrs. Twit try to out revenge each other. Mrs. Twit uses her glass eye to watch Mr. Twit, but then he puts a frog in her bed. However, similar to other Dahl books the revenge slowly turns onto the ugly and dirty Twits. I thought this was a fun book with gross humor that I’m sure many will get a laugh.
If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
Nothing good shone out of Mrs. Twit’s face.
- Roald Dahl (The Twits, page 9)
by Roald Dahl
Ages 8+, 240 pages
Matilda is a brilliant young girl whose parents think she is a trouble maker and wastes space. Her father is a used car salesman who takes advantage of customers and her mother spends her time playing bingo. Both parents don’t care what Matilda does just as long as she doesn’t get in the way. Her father argues with her when she correctly answers a complex math problem. Matilda explores the library and reads everything in sight. Matilda finally gets recognized when she enters school and meets Miss Honey. Miss Honey notices that Matilda has genius qualities, but it doesn’t let that get to her head. At school, she also encounters The Trunchbull who is the headmistress. The Trunchbull doesn’t enjoy children and gives harsh punishments, such as pulling their pig tails and forcing children to eat an entire cake. This is another Roald Dahl classic children’s story where the young triumph over cruel adults. The movie version is also enjoyable and very close to the book.
She had somehow trained herself by now to block her ears to the ghastly sound of the dreaded box. She kept right on reading, and for some reason this infuriated the father. Perhaps his anger was intensified because he saw her getting pleasure from something that was beyond his reach.
- Roald Dahl (page 38 -39)
by Roald Dahl
Ages 8+, 126 pages
I was first interested in James and the Giant Peach, since it was on the challenged books list. I was curious as to why this book could be challenged. This was a delightful book about a boy named James Henry Trotter who lives a terrible life with two aunts who blame him for everything and don’t allow any pleasures. He comes across some magic crystals and the next the day a peach grows larger. James explores the giant peach and meets new friends: Centipede, Earthworm, Green Grasshopper, Miss Spider, Silkworm and Glow-worm. Together with his new creature friends they face struggles and adventures. Each creature does their part for survival while living upon the giant peach.
Reasons for being challenged:
Parents challenged James and the Giant Peach for references to the aunts acting like witches toward James and the word ass appears. The courts unanimously retained the book. One school superintendent stated that the book was a fantasy about good triumphing over evil.
Reference: Banned in the U.S.A. A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries by Herbert N. Foerstel
So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.
- Roald Dahl
Ah, how true this quote is. Both adults and children have this problem that they often spend their time watching mindless television. Don’t get me wrong, watching a few hours a week of pointless television is fine, if it’s done in moderation. However, individuals gain much more through books. The wonder of books and reading is that you can go anywhere. You are the director who imagines exactly who plays each role in the scene. Books allow you to explore Mt. Everest from the comfort and warmth of home. You can soar off into space, bring the past into the future, spark a love, solve a mystery, learn a new language, discover distance lands, and endless possibilities of all the places a book can take you. So, turn off the television and read whether it’s at the library, bookstore, cafe, living room, curled in bed, study hall, classroom, tree house, and any other place. The book can be read as a hard cover, paperback, audio version, or electronic reader. It doesn’t matter the genre or subject. Parents read every day with your child. Read, Read, Read