Saturday, July 23, 2005

Roald Dahl

A great artile in The New Yorker about why children love Roald Dahl's stories, and many adults don't. I would honestly say that Roald Dahl is one of my all time favourite authors, if not number one. The first book I ever read, on my own all the way through was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in about grade one or two, and since then I've gone on to read nearly every other single book he wrote, including his collections of short stories for adults (which are scary and unsettling and strange, but absolutely wonderful). I remember concentrating really really hard on a pencil to make it move like Matilda did, and being just a little bit scared that the lift I was in was going to break through the ceiling and float off into the sky like in The Great Glass Elevator.

I always thought that Roald Dahl stories were a little like those by Paul Jennings: children loved them, but adults could never seem to understand why their kids would want to read these gross, disgusting and sometimes (particularly in the case of Dahl) quite brutal tales. But that was exactly the point. Kids don't want to read earnest stories by Children's Book Award winners, where the 'message' is shoved down your throat with all the subtlety of a novel by John Marsden smacked around the head (I was never a Marsden fan, I have to say). Kids want to read about chocolate factories and giant peaches and giants that have fizzy lemonade that makes you whizpop.

Well at least I did anyway!

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