71. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
Dates: 5/21/20 – 5/22/20 (2.5 hours)
Plot: Fantastic confectioner and inventor, Willy Wonka, invites 5 children – chosen by his famous Golden Ticket system – to tour his chocolate factory.
Experience Before Reading: As a child, Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors. I’ve read most of his books and took the stories with me well into adulthood.
Takeaway: Maybe it’s because I just finished Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that I felt the need to read another English children’s classic. I’m not sure. But I’m glad I did. It’s just as whimsical as I remember. Roald Dahl has a unique writing style in that he almost writes like a child, rambling on like only a child would:
And what a palace it was! It had one hundred rooms, and everything was made of either dark or light chocolate! The bricks were chocolate, and the cement holding them together was chocolate, and the windows were chocolate, and all the walls and ceilings were made of chocolate, so were the carpets and the pictures and the furniture and the beds; and when you turned on the taps in the bathroom, hot chocolate came pouring out.Chapter 3
Additionally, Dahl shows and doesn’t tell. The story moves quickly. Willy Wonka himself picks up the pace by telling his guests that they need to hurry up. There’s never a moment to digest the craziness, it’s just a plethora of ideas.
These impossible ideas are thrown at you from every direction – on the tour they pass rooms with fantastical names that they just walk (or run) right on by. I absolutely loved the absurdity of some of these rooms. I won’t spoil them for you, read them for yourself with an absolute grin on your face.
The whole book is just fun. It makes sense why it has survived all these years: Dahl has the imagination of a child. As adults, our brains often strike down ideas that we believe to be impossible, but Roald Dahl embraces this and pushes his creativity to come up with such crazy notions. When paired with actual lessons and commentaries from why television rots children’s brains to how resisting temptation may lead to rewards, it becomes a book that children of every era can enjoy.
I’ll end this review with the best review of the book I saw. I think it sums up my experience well:
I responded to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because it respected the fact that children can be adults.Tim Burton
Would I Recommend It?: To every child, whether they’re “grown-up” or not.
Dates: 5/31/20 (2 hours)
Experience Before Reading: I read this book as a child and remembered thinking it was a bit too weird for my tastes. Obviously I watched the movie(s) – let’s not talk about the Johnny Depp one. In addition to being vastly underwhelming, it is the source of an embarrassing moment when my brother mentioned he thought it was a dark film and I responded, “I agree, it was kind of hard to see a lot of it.” His subsequent laughter has haunted me to this day. I’ve never liked the movie and this may be part of it. I would like to say in my defense that I was 10, so cut me some slack.
Takeaway: People always give Grandpa Joe sh*t for being in bed and then when suddenly presented a golden ticket he’s fine to go out, but like he’s 96. My grandma can barely get out of her chair, but I’ve seen her walk nearly a mile to get to a “lucky” slot machine and she’s 88. Give Grandpa Joe a break! Also why is gum chewing so bad?
Important Note: While tasting the wallpaper, Willy Wonka says to try the snozzberries. In a later work, Roald Dahl uses snozzberry to refer to, well, Roald’s little Dahl. Thought this was important for all readers to know. Also, the fact that Roald Dahl wrote an erotic novel is ludicrous. I heard he was a big sult actually. (Not sult shaming, just sult surprised)
Would I Recommend It?: If you liked Alice in Wonderland, I would totally recommend this. It has the same sort of nonsensical fun that children always enjoy. I think I probably liked this better than I did as a child. I am definitely going to be watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tonight!