Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Top 5 titles for Roald Dahl Day

List by three librarians, two kids and a library systems analyst

September 13 is Roald Dahl Day, the birthday of the master storyteller, and a great day for remembering all the fun we've had from his fabulous tales over the years. Each book is like a juicy, magical banquet of the unexpected. With his playful language and wild imagination, his fun-poking sense of humour and his gleefully sinister side, the stories read just as well if you're revisiting them as an adult. For kids, he has a way of showing both the things you want the most in your secret heart, as well as the faces of your truest fears, like being bullied by a particularly vindictive teacher, or being at the mercy of the arbitrary whims of adults.

Happy Roald Dahl Day! For more Dahlish celebrations, why not hop onto the 'Follow that Peach' website and launch your own paper or virtual peach out into the world, joining over 2,000 peaches already in transit in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of James and the Giant Peach!

Honourable mentions: The magic finger; George's marvellous medicine; The twits; Matilda; Revolting rhymes; James and the giant peach

Kidsnatched from her orphanage by a BFG (Big Friendly Giant), who spends his life blowing happy dreams to children, Sophie concocts with him a plan to save the world from nine other man-gobbling cannybull giants.

Jolene's pick: As well as being a terrific story I LOVE this book for nostalgic reasons.... my teacher in primary always used to read Roald Dahl books to us during reading time and this is one that I couldn't wait to hear the next chapter every day. Along with other Roald Dahl books like The Magic Finger (which I won as a prize at school and so loved) and George's Marvellous Medicine, this is also one of the first chapter books I started reading on my own.

Fantastic Mr Fox
Boggis, Bunce and Bean are nasty, mean farmers who hate Mr Fox. They are determined to get him, so they lie in wait outside his hole, each one crouching behind a tree with his gun loaded, ready to shoot, starve or dig him out. But clever, handsome Mr Fox has other plans!

Tosca's pick: My mum bought me a copy when I was 6 years old. I remember it was the first time I realised that books could be humorous. It was also the first time I realised that books could be lifelong friends. My parents were quite social people and our weekends would be spent visiting family and friends. I was not particularly social even then and would drag Fantastic Mr. Fox with me everywhere and sit in the car with the doors locked, just reading and re-reading. I distinctly remember watching cousins and friends playing at whichever relative's/friend's house we would be visiting and feeling that I had more in common with Mr. Fox than other kids. In the end my copy wore out. I'm 36 and I love it still. I have a copy at home...

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Suddenly... from underneath the wrapper... there came a brilliant flash of gold. Charlie's irresistible story begins when he finds one of Mr Willy Wonka's precious Golden Tickets in his bar of chocolate and wins a magical day at the mysterious chocolate factory...

Natalie's pick: I read this so many times as a kid, my paperback copy fell apart. Still hoping someone will invent square sweets that look round and unmeltable ice cream for hot days.

The enormous crocodile
The enormous crocodile devises secret plans and a few clever tricks to secure his lunch only to have them foiled by his neighbors.

Danielle's kids' pick: This was a fantastic story, even without the audiobook version read by Stephen Fry. His language is soooo much fun to read aloud, and I love the way he builds up these nasty, selfish, horrifically over-the-top baddies, like the enormous crocodile, in order to give them a karmically satisfying smackdown. Inventive and heaps of fun.

Roald Dahl's Tales of the unexpected
Sixteen tales, each with a startling twist, where you will meet the man prepared to wager his daughter's hand in marriage over the breed and vintage of a bottle of wine; the traveller who throws himself overboard on a cruise liner just to win a bet; the innocuous-seeming landlady whose guests stay for longer than they intended; and Edward who takes on a deeply mysterious cat.

Danielle's pick: It's not one of his titles for kids, but I used to pull this off my parents' bookshelves all the time in my late teens, and read and reread my favourites (maybe hoping for some happier endings if I could just stop reading before everything inevitably went horribly, nastily wrong!). The descent into doom each character experiences, executed in a vivid but always stylish and elegant way, was a neat step up from the more bluntly-written and heavy-handed Alfred Hitchcock short story anthologies I borrowed from the school library. More karma at work!

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