A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{December 9, 2012}   Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

charlie_and_the_chocolate_factoryPlot: Charlie Bucket is very very poor. He and his family barely have enough to eat, so it is a special treat when every year, for his birthday, he receives a single bar of Willy Wonka chocolate. Wonka’s chocolate is the best in the world but his methods are a mystery. Years ago, he sealed up his factory and no one had come in or left since. But he has made an amazing announcement: he has placed 5 golden tickets in random chocolate bars and the children who find them will be allowed to visit his factory. And against all odds, Charlie has found a ticket.

Though I had not read it before today, this is the Dahl story I know best. I love Tim Burton’s movie adaptation (in fact I may be re-watching the movie as we speak). And I couldn’t read this book without hearing Johnny Depp’s voice in my head. Though they are not identical, the movie is remarkably faithful to the novel. Some elements have been modernized and the Oompa-Loompas’ songs are different but I think Burton captured the magic and the wicked humour of Dahl’s book.

Rather than the terrible adults that his novels are famous for, this book has four absolutely beastly children: a gluttonous boy, a spoiled girl, a boy who does nothing but watch TV and a girl who chews gum constantly. In true Dahl form, they each get a punishment that suits their sins. (My favorite is without a doubt the squirrel room: bad nut indeed. :)) And it’s hard to ignore the feeling that Willy Wonka planned it that way from the start. But despite the terrible things that happen, there is something absolutely magical about Wonka’s factory. His creations are both ludicrous and wondrous. A child’s dream.

In the hands of another writer, this story might have been heavy handed and moralizing. But Dahl has created something that is wickedly fun and satisfying.

Charlie’s tales is one of the few (only?) of Dahl’s story to have a sequel, thus I will be reading Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator next. …then I’ll have to go out and buy more Dahl books.

2012 (#113)


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