The marvellous world of Roald Dahl.
Roald Dahl's books are an essential part of our Book Subscriptions! But have you ever wondered who could possibly come up with so many fantastic stories that fascinate children and adults around the world? We all know at least one or two of his magical novels. But who was Roald Dahl?
A genius storyteller.
I'm almost certain that you have either read or watched the film 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' or heard of 'Matilda'. The newest (and in my opinion worst) film adaptation of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', directed by Tim Burton, was released in 2005 and starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Somehow the movie felt a bit off and strange.
However, I can highly recommend the 1996 film adaptation of 'Matilda'! This classic really is faithful to the actual book. Yes, we should stop talking about films. Let's get down to the real deal!
Who was Roald Dahl?
I really hope that you have heard of Roald Dahl before. If not, you should read on. Perhaps you are doing some form of presentation or school project about Roald Dahl. This blog post might be very useful for such an undertaking too. Let's start with this important piece of information: Dahl was a world-famous children's book author.
The usual autobiographical stuff. Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in Wales to Norwegian parents. Unfortunately, Dahl lost his father and his sister when he was only three years old. Later in life he married an American Actress and they had 5 children. However, after 30 years together, they got a divorce. But Dahl married again (his new wife was called Felicity Crossland). Dahl died in 1990.
How ironic! It might sound a little crazy but Dahl’s English teacher had deemed him incapable of writing properly. He said that Dahl could not put his thoughts on paper. This makes me wonder whether Dahl’s former teacher saw his incapable student in the news….or perhaps he even bought one of Dahl's books and read it in disbelief? I suppose we will never know.
Let's (quickly) talk about another movie.
Did you know that Roald Dahl wrote ‘The Gremlins’?
Yes, Spielberg’s ‘The Gremlins’ from 1984 (which I wouldn’t really call a children’s film) is inspired by Roald Dahl’s first ever children’s book that had been written in 1943. Roald Dahl fought in the second world war and thus, ‘The Gremlins’ was based on his experiences as a fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force. In his book the Gremlins are little mischievous characters that are causing mechanical problems on aeroplanes. By the way, Dahl was also a spy during WW2.
Where did Dahl get his inspiration from?
The world and experiences. Dahl’s writing was inspired by people, his travels and (supposedly) by everything else that happened around him and to him! Perhaps in order to get away from all these inspirational distractions (and in order to make use of his ideas), Dahl wrote many of his stories in his garden shed. When Dahl was little, he also went to boarding school where he had many crazy adventures that influenced his books.
Dahl's mum. His mother Sofie used to tell Dahl stories of Norwegian mythical creatures and their adventures.
Some of Dahl's tales convey strong moral messages:
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Moral: Don't bee greedy!
- Matilda. Moral: You can do anything if you are determined!
- The BFG. Moral: Don't judge by looks!
- James and the Giant Peach. Moral: Friendships are important!
Other stories explore themes such as good and evil, power and survival and so on:
- Fantastic Mr Fox: Can a bad action lead to a good deed?
- The Witches: I must admit, this book is actually quite scary… One of the themes that stand out is loss.
Personally, I also love Dahl's 'Revolting rhymes'. Have a listen:
Why are Dahl's books so popular?
Well, if you can't answer this question, you should really read one or two of Dahl's books.
Most of Dahl's stories are truly funny and terrifying… but elements of horror also make his books incredibly exiting. Reality and imagination become one in his tales (let's think about Matilda's superpowers, for example). He describes the world as an imperfect place filled with greed and selfishness and thereby, Dahl confronts children with their own fears. Yet, there is also always hope that is often expressed through the protagonists, who are not perfect but willing to do good to good characters. Above all, Dahl's writing style is creative and engaging, and when you read one of his books, you really get the feeling that the characters are real!