Monday, June 8, 2015
Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl
Rating: 5 stars
Well, it's a fact: My childhood was a snooze-fest compared to Roald Dahl's exciting one. Then again, perhaps I should count my lucky stars that I wasn't one of a huge brood, that I didn't get shipped off to boarding school a little too young, that I didn't get beaten for tiny infractions, and that I didn't grow up in a world stricter than strict!
I've wanted to know more about Roald Dahl for a long time, and this autobiography of his youth was incredibly satisfying. It was also a riot! I loved it--laughed out loud several times while reading it, not caring if I looked like a loon while laughing in public at a beat-up library book that is probably meant for children.
As a child I read a lot of Roald Dahl books, and I remember vividly my mother reading The Witches out loud to me--and having it be creepy and hilarious at the same time. That's quintessential Dahl for you... This would be a fun book to read out loud with kids, too, but also a fine one for them to read on their own. Either way, I think it's most appreciated after you or your child read a few Roald Dahl books.
In Boy, Dahl writes about the part of his life where the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came from (at boarding school Cadbury would give chocolate bars to boys and ask them to test them, and Dahl realized that the chocolate creators, those inventors of all things sweet and rich and chocolatey, took their jobs very, very seriously...). Also, it's clear from the horribly funny run-ins with The Matron at his boarding school where the inspiration of the headmistress in Matilda came from!
An early chapter reader might enjoy The Enormous Crocodile or a other short stories. Lorelei read James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Danny Champion of the World several times on her own when she was six or seven. I won't let her read The Witches--I want to read it out loud to her, like my mom did! When I was telling her about Boy: Tales of Childhood, I love that she was annoyed with me: "Mom, why did you return it without giving it to me?!"
Yup, this book is good enough to pass around from one generation to another. Enjoy chuckling at a childhood far more entertaining than my own!