Monday, September 28, 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Rating: 5 stars


We've been all about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory lately. The kids watched the old version of the movie--the slightly creepy one with Gene Wilder--a few times at the beach in August. Then, we listened to the book on CD this month. And finally, a week or so ago, they watched the newer version of the movie, starring Johnny Depp. At breakfast the next morning we had a fun, slightly nerdy, conversation about the similarities and differences between the book and the two movies. 

The book itself is wonderful. Do you remember it?

Young, poor Charlie Bucket's wildest hopes are realized when he is the fifth and final child to find the prized golden ticket that will gain him entrance into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Kids don't go on the tour alone; each brings along a parent or grown-up as chaperone. The parents are one of my favorite parts of the book--the parents are rather hideous, backbone-less characters who've enabled their children to be the horrid, selfish creatures they've become. All but sweet Charlie, of course, who brings his Grandpa Joe.

Throughout the tour of the factory, all of the kids are treated to amazing sights and sounds and smells that are miles beyond their wildest imaginations. The other children are, one by one, ejected in fitting, surprising, mouth-dropping ways from the factory because of naughty, disobedient behavior. Finally, Charlie is the only one left. I forgot the end of the book, to be honest, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear Willy Wonka bequeath his entire factory to Charlie. When Wonka says to Charlie's protesting, "But Charlie! Nothing is impossible!" I felt my little-kid self swept up, wanting to believe him. I sure hope my kids do.

The book is inspired by Dahl's childhood (you can read about it as I did in Boy--Tales of Childhood), when Cadbury mailed test packages of chocolate to his boarding school in order to get the boys' opinions of their new products. And, back then, Cadbury and another company I've never heard of, Rowntree, would try to steal each other's chocolate recipes, just like people tried to steal Willy Wonka's recipes in the book.

We've listened to a few audiobooks this year, but this was the best. There were sound effects during the reading that made listening to it even more exciting...although Kiefer kept wondering when they were going to sing the Oompa Loompa song, which I'll now have in my head all day. 

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