Janet

Janet's Roald Dahl's Children's Books Challenge! **Completed**

72 posts in this topic

016-2012-Feb-29-FantasticMrFox.jpg

 

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

Boggis and Bunce and Bean One fat, one short, one lean. These horrible crooks So different in looks Were none the less equally mean.

 

Boggis, Bunce and Bean are the nastiest three farmers you could ever meet. They hate Mr Fox and plan to shoot, starve or dig him out of his hole. But Mr Fox is much cleverer than they are and he has a cunning plan of his own.

 

Mr Fox lives with his wife and children on the hillside near to three incompetent farmers – Boggis, Bunce and Bean. He’s a cunning hunter (well, he is a fox!) who provides amply for his family, much to the irritation of the farmers, from whose farms he gets his supplies. Boggis, Bunce and Bean have had enough, and they vow to starve the fox family out of their den. But Mr Fox has a plan – and together with the other inhabitants of the hill he plans a feast fit for kings. Will Fox’s plan prevail or will the farmers achieve their aim?

 

I enjoyed this Dahl book very much, and as ever I adore the Quentin Blake illustrations. I’ve given this 4/5 but I may have to re-jig my scores when I’ve finished reading all the books!

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018-2012-Mar-05-EsioTrot.jpg

 

Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

Mr. Hoppy is in love with Mrs. Silver, but her heart belongs to Alfie, her pet tortoise. Mr. Hoppy is too shy to approach Mrs. Silver, until one day he comes up with a brilliant idea to win her heart. If Mr. Hoppy's plan works, Mrs. Silver will certainly fall in love with him. But it's going to take one hundred and forty tortoises, an ancient spell, and a little bit of magic.

 

I’m not going to add anything about the storyline in my review because I don’t want to spoil what is a really cute love story.

 

I have read lots of criticism about this book and the message it “gives out to younger readers”, but Dahl’s children’s books do have their dark elements which is what makes them so appealing, and personally I like to credit young people with common sense and I truly believe that reading this book won’t damage them or make them think that this is the way adults live in real life! It is, after all, just a story, and a cracking one at that, and as far as I can make out, no real tortoises were harmed as a result of Dahl writing it! :giggle2:

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Book #2 - finished 6 Feb 2012

 

Boy by Roald Dahl

 

For instance, the time when the family holidayed in Norway and he put goat droppings in his sister’s boyfriend’s tobacco (probably funnier than it sounds!).

That is my favourite bit of the book and the part that always springs to mind whenever the book is mentioned. He certainly had an interesting life.

 

Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

I have read lots of criticism about this book and the message it “gives out to younger readers”,

 

I have never heard of this one and now I am thinking I need to get a copy.

Edited by Easy Reader

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That is my favourite bit of the book and the part that always springs to mind whenever the book is mentioned. He certainly had an interesting life.

 

I have never heard of this one and now I am thinking I need to get a copy.

Boy was great - I'm looking forward to reading Going Solo at some stage. :)

 

Esio Trot is sweet I think! Perhaps you could get it from the library rather than buying it though - it's not very long. Mind you, if you like charity shops the chances are you'll find it easy enough that way. :)

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019-2012-Mar-05-TheGiraffeandthePellyandMe.jpg

 

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

Billy's biggest wish is to turn a weird old wooden house into a wonderful sweet shop. But then he finds a giraffe, a pelly and a monkey living inside – they're the Ladderless Window Cleaners! Who need ladders when you've got a giraffe? They become best friends and when they meet the richest man in all England, there's a chance Billy's scrumptious-galumptious dream just might come true...

 

It’s difficult to review the shorter Dahl books without giving anything away (I’ve yet to read one of his longer books) as the blurb pretty much covers it. I enjoyed the story in this one, although for me it’s not as good as Esio Trot or George’s Marvellous Medicine. I haven’t read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory yet, but some of the sweets mentioned in the film version are also mentioned in this book and (assuming they are actually in the book and not made up by Hollywood!) it’s nice to see that bit of continuity!

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Are you reading the books in any particular order, Janet, or just picking whatever takes your fancy?

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Boy was great - I'm looking forward to reading Going Solo at some stage. :)

 

Esio Trot is sweet I think! Perhaps you could get it from the library rather than buying it though - it's not very long. Mind you, if you like charity shops the chances are you'll find it easy enough that way. :)

 

I wasn't so keen on going solo but then its a more grown up book and I think I was too young for it at the time (still at primary school)

 

I am pretty sure my niece has (or at least had) all the RD books so next time I vist them I shall have a quick read while I am there.

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I imagine I wouldn't have enjoyed Going Solo very much as a youngster. It's nothing like his other children's books, is it? It's kind of funny that it's marketed that way, really. Luckily, I read it for the first time as an adult and really loved it. I hope you decide to give it another go one day. :)

 

One book that has always put me off for some reason is The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar. I have a feeling it was purely the cover that might have put me off the whole book, or maybe it seemed too long or adult-like. I'm not even sure if I have a copy of it now.

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I've no idea how I missed the following posts - if you do come back and find my replies I'm sorry for my omission! :)

 

Are you reading the books in any particular order, Janet, or just picking whatever takes your fancy?

I'm just reading them in any old order. I guess publication might have made sense, but as I already have quite a few on my 'to read' pile, I'm just picking them randomly. :)

 

I wasn't so keen on going solo but then its a more grown up book and I think I was too young for it at the time (still at primary school)

 

I am pretty sure my niece has (or at least had) all the RD books so next time I vist them I shall have a quick read while I am there.

I imagine I wouldn't have enjoyed Going Solo very much as a youngster. It's nothing like his other children's books, is it? It's kind of funny that it's marketed that way, really. Luckily, I read it for the first time as an adult and really loved it. I hope you decide to give it another go one day. :)

 

One book that has always put me off for some reason is The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar. I have a feeling it was purely the cover that might have put me off the whole book, or maybe it seemed too long or adult-like. I'm not even sure if I have a copy of it now.

I also hope you enjoy them if you do manage to re-read some, Easy Reader. :) I'm looking forward to Going Solo, just because of how much I loved Boy, although of course it might not be as good.

 

I must confess that I hadn't even heard of ...Henry Sugar before I started this challenge, Kylie! I still haven't read a synopsis so I'm none the wiser. Maybe I should make sure I don't leave this one until last just in case it doesn't live up to some of the really good ones!

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Speaking of Henry Sugar, I noticed during my recent organising that I have a copy of the book, but I didn't have it listed on my TBR pile for some reason (maybe I'm that scared of reading it that I'm subconsciously ignoring its existence :giggle2:).

 

I think a random reading order is the best way to go. I think the only reason one would read them in publication order is if the books were part of a series (which they're obviously not) or if one wanted to track the author's change in writing style over time (which is good for someone like Jack Kerouac, but not really applicable to Roald Dahl!)

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George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

George’s grandma has some pretty odd views. In fact, she’s not a very nice person at all. She thinks caterpillars and slugs are delicious and likes to crunch on beetles best of all. George can do nothing right in grandma’s eyes, so when it’s time for her medicine he decides to give her a dose of his own special brew.

 

George’s grandmother is a really nasty piece of work. One day, George is left on his own to look after her, and after being nagged once too often, he decides to get revenge and using various items he finds lying around the house, he creates a disgusting potion to give to her in place of her usual medicine.

 

 

Here’s where the fun really begins! The medicine makes grandma grow and grow and grow until she’s talker than the house! George must try to make medicine to make her shrink again. He mixes and blends and combines the various ‘ingredients’ he used in his original blend to try to find a cure, but this might just prove impossible… which in turn might lead to a nicer life for George… and the end of grandma!

 

 

In the days of ‘PC gone mad’ I’m sure there are plenty of people who frown upon this story, although the book does contain a message in the front just before the story starts warning children not to try making their own medicine at home! As an adult, I love the dark nature of Dahl’s stories. This one is one of my favourites so far!

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Speaking of Henry Sugar, I noticed during my recent organising that I have a copy of the book, but I didn't have it listed on my TBR pile for some reason (maybe I'm that scared of reading it that I'm subconsciously ignoring its existence :giggle2:).

 

I think a random reading order is the best way to go. I think the only reason one would read them in publication order is if the books were part of a series (which they're obviously not) or if one wanted to track the author's change in writing style over time (which is good for someone like Jack Kerouac, but not really applicable to Roald Dahl!)

I've just realised I wasn't following this thread which was how I missed your original comment. :) Haha - I just had a little chuckle at you discovering the book. I think you're right about your subconscious.

 

I think it might be interesting to read someone's books in publication order to see how they've progressed (or maybe even regressed!) but you're right about it not mattering with Dahl. :)

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057-2012-Sep-15-JamesandtheGiantPeach.jpg

 

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

James has lived with his beastly Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker ever since the day his parents were eaten up outside London Zoo by an angry escaped rhinoceros. Then something very peculiar and magical happens that will whisk James away from his wretched existence and take him on an unbelievable journey!

 

When James is just four years old his parents are eaten by an escaped Rhino and he’s sent to live with his horrible Aunties. His life is miserable – he’s made to sleep in the attic and has little food and is treated as a skivvy. Life isn’t much fun until one day when he meets a strange man who gives him a bag of crocodile tongues with instructions of what to do with them… which will make marvellous things happen so that James will never be miserable again. However, James has a mishap and as a result an enormous peach starts to grow in the garden, and James - together with the peach and a bunch of magical insects - sets off on a mysterious journey that may just change his life forever…

 

This is the seventh book I’ve read as part of my Dahl challenge. Although I did enjoy it I didn’t think it was as strong – or as exciting – as other titles. I’m glad I didn’t leave this one until last. Sadly I don’t have much else to add!

 

(Finished 15 September 2012)

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68-2012-Nov-06-CharlieandtheChocolateFactory.jpg

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

Charlie Bucket loves chocolate - and Mr Willy Wonka, the most wondrous inventor in the world, is opening the gates of his amazing chocolate factory to five lucky children. It's the prize of a lifetime! Gobstoppers, Wriggle Sweets and a river of melted chocolate delight await - Charlie needs just one golden ticket – and all these delicious treats could all be his.

 

I know the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from the Johnny Depp film and from the inferior version with Gene Wilder (Dahl himself hated this adaptation and was disappointed that Willie Wonka was made the central character (which was due to a commercial advertising campaign for a candy ‘Wonka’ bar!) instead of Charlie, and that it wasn’t a accurate adaptation of his story), but I digress...

 

Charlie Bucket lives with his parents and four grandparents in a ramshackle house – the family is very poor so Charlie is limited to having his beloved chocolate just once a year, on his birthday. It is announced that five lucky finders of a ‘golden ticket’ will win a tour of Willie Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. By a stroke of fate, Charlie acquires one of these tickets and together with Grandpa Joe, he embarks on a wonderful adventure at the factory with the four other ticket winners. As the children travel around the factory, each one is taught a lesson until only Charlie is left – what does this mean for him?

 

It’s difficult reviewing this because I am so familiar with the film version. I enjoyed the book although I wouldn’t say I loved it - I’m sure I would have had I read it as a child. It’s certainly not a book I’m ever likely to re-read. I bought this second-hand and it’s illustrated by Faith Jaques, rather than the more familiar Quentin Blake, of whom I’m a huge fan as an illustrator - it doesn’t quite feel right as a result of his!

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[Part of this review appeared in one of the Book Activity threads, so if it seems familar (if anyone reads it!) then that's why]

 

69-2012-Nov-07-CharlieandtheGreatGlassElevator.jpg

 

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

Picking right up where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory left off, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator continues the adventures of Charlie Bucket, his family and Willy Wonka, the eccentric candy maker. As the book begins, our heroes are shooting into the sky in a glass elevator, headed for destinations unknown. What follows is exactly the kind of high-spirited magical madness and mayhem we've all come to expect from Willy Wonka and his creator Roald Dahl. The American space race gets a send-up, as does the President, and Charlie's family gets a second chance at childhood. Throw in the Vermicious Knids, Gnoolies and Minusland and we once again witness pure genius.

 

What kind of ridiculousness is this? I enjoyed Charlie’s exploits in the chocolate factory so was looking forward to reading some more of his adventures. My version (like my copy of CatCF) isn’t illustrated by the wonderful Quentin Blake - it's illustrated by Faith Jaques. It's just not right! However it was definitely the story I didn't like - I thought it was stupid and a bit odd... and for some reason I can't put my finger on it gave me the creeps.

 

I read after finishing this that Dahl had intended to write a third book about Charlie Bucket but didn’t ever get round to it. Maybe if he had, Charlie would have gone out on a high but this just left me cold – however I’ve enjoyed most of the Dahls I’ve read so far, so onwards and upwards.

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75-2012-Dec-21-Matilda.jpg

 

Matilda by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

Five-year old Matilda longs for her parents to be good and loving and understanding, but they are none of these things. They are perfectly horrid to her. Matilda invents a game of punishing them each time they treat her badly and she soon discovers she has supernatural powers.

 

Matilda is something of a child genius – but her parents just think of her as a noisy chatterbox. Left at home alone for long periods, Matilda teaches herself to read and is soon visiting the local library on a frequent basis. When she eventually attends school, her teacher, Miss Honey, recognises Matilda’s talent and wishes to nurture it. The headteacher Miss Trunchbull, however, has no time for children or for Matilda’s intelligence. As Miss Honey and Matilda bond, Matilda discovers the secret of Miss Honey’s past and resolves to help her – and along the way discovers some special powers that will allow her to do so.

 

I have seen the film version of this dozens of times and I probably wouldn’t have read this book if it wasn’t for my Dahl challenge – I found it to be very enjoyable. Matilda is a likeable child and The Trunchbull is a delicious villain! Although the film differs in that it is set in America, I think it was a good adaptation.

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This is a great challenge Janet.

I love Roal Dahl, happy reading!

Edited by EleanorT

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Thanks, Eleanor. I'm enjoying the challenge. :)

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#10/22

 

024-2013-May-20-GoingSolo_zpsfd6e70cb.jp

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

The ‘blurb’
Going Solo is the action-packed tale of Roald Dahl's exploits as a World War II pilot. Learn all about his encounters with the enemy, his worldwide travels, the life-threatening injuries he sustained in a plane accident, and the rest of his sometimes bizarre, often unnerving, and always colorful adventures. Told with the same irresistible appeal that has made Roald Dahl one of the world's best-loved writers, Going Solo brings you directly into the action and into the mind of this fascinating man.

A life is made up of a great number of small incidents, and a small number of great ones.

Going Solo follows on immediately from the first part of Dahl’s memoirs, Boy. Dahl has left school is now working for the oil company, Shell. His first job with them sends him to East Africa – Dar es Salaam - for a three year tour and the book opens with anecdotes about his life there with colonials and his ‘boy’ Mdisho. His trip to East Africa is cut short with the arrival of World War Two and Dahl enlists in the RAF and the book thereafter is taken up with tales from his experiences of the war.

I enjoyed the first part of the memoirs more than this part, but it was still interesting. I gather though that Dahl embellished an awful lot of what happened (some reports state that he was not, as the book suggests, unaccompanied when his plane came down), so maybe one shouldn’t take some of the wilder tales at face value. I really should read a biography about Dahl at some stage.

The paperback is 213 pages long and is published by Puffin. It was first published in 1986. The ISBN number is 9780755335602.

3/5 (I liked it)

(Finished 20 May 2013)

 

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#11/22

 

025-2013-May-20-TheMagicFinger_zps3540ae

The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

The ‘blurb’
’Well, that did it!
I saw
red
And before I was able to
Stop myself
I did something I never meant to do.

I put the magic finger on them all!’


A fairly typical Dahl cautionary tale about a girl who dislikes the things her two friends and their family do and so casts a sort of spell on them with her magic finger. This was much shorter than I expected – the story is 57 pages long – 16 of the total page count at the end of the book are made up of facts about Dahl and his books. Clearly I’m not the target market here – it’s probably long enough for little ones but it was over rather quickly for me!

The paperback is 73 pages long and is published by Puffin. It was first published in 1956. The ISBN number is 9780141346519.

2½/5 (I quite liked it - but it was over in a flash!)

(Finished 20 May 2013)


 

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017-2014-Apr-01-TheWitches_zps3ddb4b53.j

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl

 

The ‘blurb’

A real witch gets the same pleasure from squelching a child as you get from eating a plateful of strawberries and thick cream.

 

What’s even more unnerving is that real witches don’t look like witches.  So how can you tell when you meet one?

 

You’ll find out all you need to know in this story about the most gruesome gang of witches imaginable, perfectly complemented with illustrations by Quentin Blake.  

 

I’ve seen the film version (which Dahl apparently thought ‘utterly appalling’ due to the changes made) of The Witches before, but this was my first read of the book. 

 

A young boy is warned of the dangers of witches by his grandmother.  She teaches him that witches are not green and they don’t have warts and they don’t wear pointy hats – they look like normal women.  But there are signs that give a witch away if you know what to look out for.  The boy and his grandmother have plans to visit Norway in the school holidays, but a bout of pneumonia means that his grandmother is not well enough to travel abroad, so instead they go to a hotel in Bournemouth, where it will be quiet and restful. For nothing untoward could possible happen at a sleepy English hotel, could it…?

 

After reading this, I can see why Dahl didn’t like the film version.  I won’t go into why here, as there would be too many spoilers for both book and film.  Suffice to say that I enjoyed both, despite the changes.  Had I not seen the film first then maybe I wouldn’t have liked it so much?  The Witches is not my favourite Dahl book by any means, but I did enjoy it.

 

The paperback edition is 208 pages long and is published by Penguin.  It was first published in 1983.  The ISBN is 9780140317305.   

 

3½/5 (I enjoyed it)

 

(Finished 01 April 2014)

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Well it's been a while since I posted in here!  I read The Vicar of Nibbleswicke today.  That takes my total to 16/22.  

 

I'm not quite sure what to do about Revolting Rhymes, Dirty Beasts and Rhyme Stew - I hadn't appreciated that they were baby picture books so I may exclude them.

 

Edit:  Oh, and The Gremlins is very expensive, so that may prove a problem. 

Edited by Janet

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I'm not quite sure what to do about Revolting Rhymes, Dirty Beasts and Rhyme Stew - I hadn't appreciated that they were baby picture books so I may exclude them.

 

Edit:  Oh, and The Gremlins is very expensive, so that may prove a problem.

I thought I'd posted recently, but clearly not!

 

I bit the bullet and went to one of my local libraries and managed to find Revolting Rhymes and Rhyme Stew.  I haven't reviewed them yet but I scored them 3/5 and 2/5 respectively.  Clearly I'm not the target audience. I think I'd have enjoyed reading these to my kids. 

 

Aside from The Gremlin which I'm unlikely to be able to read, I have Dirty Beasts, The Minpins and Danny, the Champion of the World left to read.  I have the latter on my 'to read' pile but I'm saving it until last!  :D

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Book 19/22

 

031-2016-Apr-10-Revolting%20Rhymes_zps9s

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

The ‘blurb’
Six of the best-loved nursery tales, retold with surprising and sometimes disgusting twists! Wicked beasts, brazen crooks and a ghastly giant star in these hilarious nursery rhymes with BITE. So if you thought Cinderella married the prince and lived happily ever after, you'd better think again...

This is one of Dahl’s books aimed at very young children – he takes famous children’s stories and puts a dark spin on them in rhyme form. The book features versions of tales including Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Little Pigs.

The book is amusing, but of course, I’m not the target audience. I expect I’d have enjoyed this when I was five or six and if I’d read Dahl as a child I’m sure I’d have read this to my own children. However, it didn’t really do much for me. I wish I’d read these last ones at the beginning of my challenge rather than at the end. At least I still have one of his older children’s books left to try!

Revolting%20Rhymes%201_zpsmi5sowmr.jpg

The paperback edition is 48 pages long and is published by Puffin. It was first published in 1982. The ISBN is 9780141350370.

2½/5 (I quite enjoyed it)

(Finished 10 April 2016)

 

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I hadn't heard of this one, it's not in my 'Roald Dahl Collection Box Set'. Shame it wasn't as good as some of the other Roald Dahl books. Which one(s) are your favourites (so far)?

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