September 13th is the birthdate of the WWII British fighter pilot-turned-beloved-children’s-author Roald Dahl. The author of some of the world’s most popular children’s novels (such as Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) bid farewell to his readers in 1990, but his imagination is still awake in his fanciful and bizarre stories. It seems everybody knows Dahl… or at least knows about him.
Until this month, I’d never read a word of a Dahl book. I saw Gene Wilder’s crazy eyes in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory before I started Kindergarten. I remember turning the dial on the T.V. to change the channel back and forth because Wilder’s Wonka and his minions were creeping me out big time, but I wanted to know what horrible end Charlie might meet. I watched James and the Giant Peach in elementary school and thought the animation style was new and neat. Jump to college in 2005, and my teen dream Johnny Depp was starring in Tim Burton’s take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so of course I attended the midnight showing at the theater. Freddy Highman’s Charlie was sincere, and Depp’s Wonka seemed weirdly adolescent. Then, post-college, the delightful Wes Anderson stop-motion adaptation of The Fantastic Mr. Fox made its way into my canon of film favorites.
All well and good to have seen a few of Dahl’s classics on the screen, but as we all know, the book is always better than the movie. I want to know what really happens—get the whole flesh and life of the stories, and let that pure imagination go to work.
- James and the Giant Peach
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- The Vicar of Nibbleswicke
- The Witches
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The BFG
And since here at Bushwick we like our books and our music on the same plate, I’m going to make some music out of this reading experience, too. Stay tuned in the next month or so to hear it.
If you’d like to join in and discover or revisit the Dahl classics, or read more about the man himself, his website is one of the zaniest and coolest I’ve seen: www.roalddahl.com. You’ll find a complete list of all of his works on the website, including his adult fiction.
Amanda is starting with The Witches, in honor of Dahl’s birthday and the potential horror that is Friday the 13th. Keep up with her at @iReadandSing #roalddahlproject