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


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#21 chesilbeach

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:02 PM

I'm trying to concentrate of my Jane Austen reading for this year, but I can't deny there is an utterly scrumptillyumptious temptation to join in with this one too! Maybe next year ... ;)

#22 Janet

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 09:19 PM

Great challenge :) I'll be looking out for your reviews because I really should read more by Dahl :)

Thanks - I must catch up with all my reviews!!

... I can't deny there is an utterly scrumptillyumptious temptation to join in with this one too! Maybe next year ... ;)

:lol:

Better late than never!!

#23 Janet

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:22 PM

I read The Fantastic Mr Fox this morning in the bath after I'd finished my chores! I preferred this to The Twits (although I liked that too).

3/22

#24 Janet

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:23 PM

Book 1/22 - Review - finished 1 February 2012 - 2½/5


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The Twits by Roald Dahl

The ‘blurb’
Mr and Mrs Twit are really disgusting. They smell because they never wash, they fight because they play tricks on each other, AND they hate children. But worst of all, they keep monkeys in their back garden. In cages. It's time for the monkeys to get their revenge on these two most revolting creatures…

One of Dahl’s books for younger readers, and of course, a story with a moral. The Twits are not nice people – they don’t even like one another, let alone anyone else. They keep monkeys in the garden because they used to work at a circus – Mr Twit makes the monkeys do everything upside down. One day a strange, wise bird appears and helps the monkeys formulate a plan that will enable them to have a better life, whilst having a little revenge on the evil Twits.

I'm not sure if this was a good place to start my challenge or not! The story was quite amusing, but there wasn't really a lot to it. As I am woefully behind with my reviews, I do know that it's not going to end up as my favourite of Dahl's children's books but despite this it was enjoyable.

#25 Janet

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 05:29 PM

Book #2 - finished 6 Feb 2012

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Boy by Roald Dahl

The ‘blurb’
Into his description of an enchanted boyhood spent in Wales and Norway, counterpointed with his cruel, often barbaric, existence at an English public school, Roald Dahl weaves a sparking thread of reminiscence filled with wit, high spirits and more than a touch of his macabre.

Boy covers Dahl’s family life from before his birth until he leaves school – he states that it’s not an autobiography but rather a collection of stories about his life. Dahl was born in Wales to Norwegian parents – his father had become wealthy after starting his own business and Dahl led a pretty idyllic childhood.

This memoir is packed full of photographs, drawings and anecdotes – all in Dahl’s relaxed conversational tone. In one incident Dahl describes having his adenoids taken out on a table at the doctor’s surgery with no anaesthetic - ouch! Many of his tales made me chuckle out loud. 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!).

It’s not without its bleaker side too. Dahl’s sister died of appendicitis when he was just three years old, and his father died weeks later of pneumonia. His mother thought of returning to Norway with her children, but his father had wanted the boys to receive an English education so the family stayed. Dahl attended public schools – first a preparatory school in Wales when he was seven, transferring to boarding school in England at the age of nine and then at 12 moving to Repton in the Midlands. His time at these schools was not always happy – the masters favouring corporal punishment, but there were some good times (notably an incident referred to by Dahl as The Great Mouse Plot).

After Repton, Dahl joined the company Shell as a trainee, and this is where the book ends. I think whether you are young or old you will find something for you in this excellent book and I’m very much looking forward to reading the second part, Going Solo.

#26 Janet

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 08:34 PM

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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!

#27 Janet

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 05:29 PM

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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:

#28 Easy Reader

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 08:38 AM

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, 13 April 2012 - 08:41 AM.


#29 Janet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:20 AM

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. :)

#30 Janet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 09:45 AM

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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!

#31 Kylie

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:09 PM

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

#32 Easy Reader

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:17 PM

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.

#33 Kylie

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:34 PM

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.

#34 Janet

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 01:09 PM

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!

#35 Kylie

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 01:43 PM

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!)

#36 Janet

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 01:53 PM

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.

Spoiler


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!

#37 Janet

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 02:01 PM

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. :)

#38 Janet

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 10:07 PM

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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)

#39 Janet

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 08:31 AM

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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!

#40 Janet

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 05:52 PM

[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]

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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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