Roald Dahl was one of the first writers I came across when I was first introduced to English novels. And oh! What journeys those books have been. Since then, I’ve visited and revisited those universes that have made me a part of their own, hundreds of times. When I have no more unfinished books at home or the last book has been a very heavy ride or just a bad day, I’ve found my peace in the songs of the Oompa-Loompas, in the bubbles of Frobscottle, in the square sweets that look round and all of Dahl’s Gobblefunk!
Though it is extremely hard to choose just 3 books from among so many by the world’s no. 1 storyteller, here, I’ve indulged in the ones that I repeatedly come back to at all times- ‘The Witches’ (1983), ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ (1964) and ‘Matilda’ (1988).
These are real witches, nothing imaginary! They may not wear black cloaks and pointy hats, but they absolutely hate children, “hot sizzling hatred” and send them inside oil paintings or turn them into fowls.
‘The Witches’ was the first Roald Dahl book I read, from my school library. A glossy cover with hilarious illustrations by Quentin Blake. Since then, ‘The Witches’ have always been my absolute favourite.
It is the story of a boy and his grandma, a former witch who knows that it is impossible for a little boy to be safe if he isn’t able to distinguish between a real kind old lady and a disguised witch. They get to know the evil plans of the Head of the Witches and our little narrator continues with his fun albeit dangerous journey being turned into a rat!
‘CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY’
This is the story of poor little Charlie who gets just one bar of ‘Wonka’s Whipple Scrumptious Fudgemellow Delight’ every year for his birthday. But this year, it is no less than a miracle when he gets one of the five golden tickets to visit Willy Wonka’s humongous Chocolate Factory.
Thus Charlie’s journey begins- exploring the extraordinary chocolate factory with four other little brats and Mr. Willy Wonka himself, with his black top hat, plum tailcoat, gold walking cane, a small pointed goatee and sparkling eyes. They sail into the chocolate river on a pink sugar boat, rowed by hundreds of tiny Oompa-Loompas breaking into songs and uncontrollable laughter every now and then.
One by one, they visit the storerooms, like the one where all the ‘whips- all shapes and sizes’ are kept because “whipped cream isn’t whipped cream at all unless it’s been whipped with whips” or the one with all the creams- dairy cream, violet cream, pineapple cream and hair cream. They also make a stop at the inventing room and witness ‘Everlasting Gobstoppers’ and the Great Gum Machine, The Nut Room, The Television Room and much more.
As time passes, all the other four children disappear leaving only Charlie behind, and now Mr. Wonka has a secret to share!
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ was the first Roald Dahl book I bought and now opening the book at any random page, I can almost narrate the whole chapter!
Matilda is a little girl whose parents think reading is a waste of time, while Matilda herself, misunderstood and lonely lives in a world of books helped by the kind and generous Miss Honey.
Apart from Matilda, huge Miss Trunchbull, the school’s headmistress with her utter loathing for children and phrases such as ‘stagnant cesspool’ has further glittered the book with humour.
To teach Miss Trunchbull and her parents the right lessons, Matilda has all the schemes ready in her head as is her ease to solve long mathematical equations. And what’s more magical is : Matilda can move things at her will without touching them!
When I first read this book, I was no more older than Matilda. This was the novel that enlightened the wonderful world of books to live inside, to me.
Since, I’ve mentioned ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, it would be unfair if I omit the second part of ‘The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka’, ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’. So, here’s a bonus!
‘CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR’
Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka along with Mr. and Mrs. Bucket, Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine, and Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina continue their journey as they hop into Mr. Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator that can go anywhere in the Chocolate Factory and even beyond, it “can go sideways and longways and slantways and any other way you can think of!”
On their way back to the Chocolate Factory from Charlie’s little hut, some uncoordinated movements end up in the Great Glass Elevator being accelerated into the outer space! There, since opportunity presented, in their quest to explore the Space Hotel USA, they encounter the nasty Vermicious Knids. Swarms of the shape changing beasts languidly chasing them,chewing and gobbling up Mr. President’s astronauts and the crew of the Space Hotel!
This book too is not devoid of Mr. Wonka’s extraordinary sweets, as Wonka-vite and Vita-Wonk take us to the dangerous minusland. And when the grandpas and grandmas are still in their nightgowns, the whole troop gets a royal invitation!
These novels are not only a humorous, wondrous, full of awe treats, but also provide a moral learning. And when such stories are told by a storyteller like Roald Dahl, what more reasons do we need to go back to these magical worlds over and over again?
Apart from the aforementioned ones, ‘The BFG’, ‘The Magic Finger’, ‘The Enormous Crocodile’, and the autobiographical ‘Boy and Going Solo’ and many more such books by Dahl are astounding enough to embed within you the love of reading and the beauty of narration.
Do let me know in the comments your favourite Roald Dahl books or any other children’s books that you have picked up time and over, no matter what your age be!