James; The Witches; Matilda – Roald Dahl
December 26, 2009 § 4 Comments
What better way than to spend Christmas snuggled up with some books written by such a lovable author? I’ll admit to only have read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, but I grew up with that book literally by my side. I remember having thoroughly loved Charlie, so I’m not quite so sure why I didn’t venture to read any other of Dahl’s books.
When I saw that James and the Giant Peach and The Witches were both banned/challenged books, I almost fell off my chair. What?! I thought to myself. I had to check them out. And since Matilda was available at the library, I naturally borrowed it home too.
I think it’s been quite a while since I’ve had so much fun. The stories were light-hearted, very funny, and of course, the numerous poems, limericks, rhymes and what have you, so typical of Dahl, made me fall in love with them straight away.
James and the Giant Peach was the first of the three that I read. It took at most five pages into the book, and I was hooked. I found myself giggling at how Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge tried to outdo each other, singing praises of how beautiful they thought they were.
When James arrived at the core of the Giant Peach (it deserves to be given a proper noun status, it is, afterall, a character by itself!), I fell in love with all the other characters at once. Quentin Blake is one great illustrator.
How could anyone not love that drawing?
And the Cloud-Men! Just thinking about whispy things up on the clouds, throwing balls of cloud down at us as hailstones and snow, painting bridges with the seven colours of the rainbow. It just reminded me of how I used to pray and hope to see those things, when I was still little and made stories as to how rain appeared, or why there is thunder.
Lovely, lovely story.
Witches are women who hate children. Yes, they are always women, and children to them smell like dog’s droppings. Dahl even has an entire chapter dedicated to telling us ‘How to Recognise a Witch’!
Our boy in this story gets turned into a mouse in a very unfortunate turn of events, but he doesn’t seem to be the least bit disturbed about being turned into a mouse. No sir-ree! No more homework, no more school. What more could a boy want?
Our Grandmamma herself used to be a witchophile and knows all about witches. And so though she is surprised to see her dearest grandson now a mouse, she is able to accept it. Better still, they now hatch a plan to get rid of the witches of England, together with The Grand High Witch of All The World!
You just can’t help but read and read and read till you get to the end.
When I saw the cover art for Matilda, I immediately thought of this one sketch I drew up some time earlier this year.
It’s such a lovely feeling to be surrounded by books, and the love of reading.
But back to the book, Matilda is an extraordinary girl. She was already able to speak perfectly at the age of one and a half, and by the time she was five, she’s read more classic books than I have!
It’s just too bad her parents don’t see her strengths and abilities. Having a wretched father doesn’t help much, and I just loved the pranks she pulled on her father to ‘punish’ him.
At school, her headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is a super-bully who completely hates children, swings little girls by their pigtails, and pick little boys up by their ears. Horrid person, this Miss Trunchbull, and I believe I was grinning when I read about the final prank Matilda pulled on this woman.
They were, of course, very quick reads. But oh-so-enjoyable. It definitely pays heaps, I reckon, to read children’s books every once in a while, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves of what it’s like to be children again. Or to dig out that inner child of ours that sort of got neglected with all the grown-up crap that we absorb on a day-to-day basis.
I love the magic I rediscovered reading these books. I feel like I’m now ready to take on all the forces of evil. It’s good to end the year feeling like this, no?
Challenges: Banned Book Challenge