21 April 2010
R is for ... Roald Dahl
Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Cardiff, Wales to Norwgian parents. He is famous (at least in the UK) for writing a slew of successful children's novels, which mostly revolve around some aspect of child abuse/neglect. Dahl was criticised for employing a lot of very dark humour into his novels, which seemed inappropriate for children (obviously, these claims were made by adults). What made Dahl's work so fantastic is, as well as his humour that struck a chord with kids everywhere, his distinct element of fantasy and whimsy that enabled the children to get their own back on their abusive/neglectful guardians. Here are a few examples:
The BFG - an orphan in a boarding house with a strict guardian encounters a Big Friendly Giant who takes her back to Giant land. The Giant and the orphan save England from an invasion of nasty giants.
Matilda - a gifted child who is ridiculed and neglected by her parents and teacher soon finds that she had telekinetic powers that are fuelled by her anger at the bad treatment she has received.
The Witches - a young boy uncovers a plot by a cabal of witches to rid the world of all children.
I practically grew up on Dahl's books, I loved the way that the kids always got their own back by the end of the book (or in the case of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the bad kids got their comeuppance). There have been a lot of movie adaptations of Dahl's books that all kind of downplay the darker elements of the story (The BFG is an exception, it's pretty creepy as well as awesome).
Does anyone else remember reading Roald Dahl? What's your favourite book of his?