Yay! It’s Roald Dahl’s birthday, which means it Roald Dahl Day!
I see what they did there. They took his birthday and turned it into a Day, with a capital D, taking it from your common or garden variety of day and transforming it into a big, proper day of a day with balloons, cake, presents, peaches, twits and champions.
And what better way to celebrate than to share our list of favourite Roald Dahl memories with you?
And our not-so-favourites. Because let’s face it, we all have likes and dislikes. But not liking something doesn’t equate to disrespect. It’s a reflection of the fact that it’s rare for us to always love everything an author writes.
It’s an acceptance that authors too, may not be consistent. They may want to try different things. Take risks with their writing that don’t always pay off or please all their fans. Such is a writer’s right.
A bit of contrast will make this more interesting to read – partly because saying you don’t like something by one of the world’s most-treasured children’s authors is tantamount to heresy.
But also because it may genuinely help us understand the nature of our likes and dislikes. As John Steinbeck said, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
First up, me.
My favourite Roald Dahl story is Danny, the Champion of the World, because, well, I guess I wanted a dad who would take care of me like Danny’s did. I used to watch the film and pray that when dad got home, it would be Jeremy Irons walking through the door.
My least favourite is The Twits, because they are just so nasty to each other and nothing else. I thought they were one dimensional. Even baddies need some sort of loveable or forgivable aspect to them, so we can understand where they’re coming from and make them believable, if not actually lovable or forgivable. Luke Skywalker could feel the good left in Darth Vader even though he did lightsabre the hell out of a whole temple of younglings.
My favourite is the BFG because I love the concept of a friendly giant collecting dreams so that he can give good ones to children is beautiful. I love the rebellious Sophie standing her ground with the BFG and then the BFG and Sophie standing up to the man-eating giants. And then . . . just when you can’t see it getting any better they visit the Queen. Magical.
My least favourite is Danny, the Champion of the World, as I love Roald Dahl for taking you on magical journeys – I would read Dahl for escapism. Having grown up in an area full of pheasants and gamekeepers – Danny’s lifestyle was not fantastical enough.
My favourite is the BFG ’cause the movie blew my mind as a kid. And also freaked me out a little. But really cool story and idea similar to that of the Sandman.
I’ve never liked The Witches because that scarred me for life, it’s just too freaky having a hidden cult of witches just eating kids. However it was still kinda cool.
On another note I really like Matilda, she’s my favourite superhero and also Danny De Vito :)
My favourite is George’s Marvelous Medicine as I loved how he came up with inventive ideas of getting rid of his nasty granny. I even went as far as writing my own spin on the story which was a spider called Fred who created his own version of Tory killing medicine and killed all the Tory voting spiders!! (I was slightly indoctrinated about Thatcher from the age of seven!!)
My least favourite is James and the Giant Peach. I never liked the story, the aunt’s were grotesque and I didn’t feel comfortable about the thought of living in a peach with a load of insects!!
Mine fav would be Matilda. I loved imagining having powers like she did.
I think my least would be James and the Giant Peach. I think the thought of living in a peach made me feel dirty and smelly. Maybe it is because I don’t like peaches.
My favourite book is George’s Marvellous Medicine. I don’t actually remember it too much but I remember being read it at school and the feelings I had in that moment of magic. That makes the book my favourite because past 6-year-old Daisy enjoyed the book so much I still remember how I felt being read it even though I don’t remember the content.
My least favourite is Danny, the Champion of the World. This was because I had my first primary school detention after not being able to sit still in the reading to the class because I was bored. And I was told off and I cried, haha. So not good memories of that one.
When asked “what my favourite and least favourite Roald Dahl’s story is and why”…
I felt stumped – struggling to remember the many books that he has written and out of those, did one stand above all others? The nuances that made one better than the other.
All I could really think of, was his brilliant use of made up words and the artwork by Quentin Blake – that’s what captivated me as a child. There seems to be a fun, joy to his illustrations. Didn’t take himself too seriously – but contained craft and style that is unforgettable, distinctive. For me… Quentin added the visual identity to these brilliant stories. And it’s that, which is cemented in my mind.
Oh I’d say my favourite of Dahl’s books would have to be Discworld: The Fellowship of The Ring. I absolutely love the way he captured the battle of Minas Tirith, it felt like I was there with Hagrid Skywalker and Captain Trouser Legs…
But in all seriousness, I’ve been a big fan of Roald Dahl since I was a wee nipper. Most of his work I consumed as books on tape with a majority of them read by the man himself. When I say on tape I don’t mean Sellotape, I mean on cassettes which were an analogue magnetic tape recording format for audio and playback. That’s how we listened to audiobooks back in the 90s. That’s for all the youngsters who might be reading this. Anyway sorry, serious, back to Roald Dahl.
I used to love Matilda, The BFG, The Enormous Crocodile and of course, James & The Giant Peach but I got to say my favourite has to be Fantastic Mr Fox. Even though the book doesn’t have any fantastical elements to it, I believe the world building in it is really strong.
I lived in the countryside growing up and Dahl painted a perfect picture of that. I particularly liked the horrible song sung by the local children about Boggis, Bunce and Bean, the horrible farmers in the book that wanted to kill the foxes.
Fun fact, the tape I had, had Roald Dahl reading the book however when it came to the song, that was actually sung by a small choir of actual children! Real life actual children! Which makes it a little creepy to listen to.
As for my least favourite, I think it might be controversial, but I’m not really a fan of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory for many reasons. Most of the characters in it are either stupid, horrible or both not to mention (another controversial thing to say) I don’t really like Chocolate so all the “Oh look at this amazing factory, wowww!” is a bit lost on me.
Oh also I hate Charlie’s granddad. You telling me that he was bed ridden all this time, being fed and washed by his family and all it took to get him out of bed and miraculously recover from whatever illness he had, was to be given a free trip to a chocolate factory? He’s a damn dirty liar! And don’t get me started on the other three grandparents!
And the shortest, but perhaps most revealing answer of them all…
Willy Wonker. Because. Just because.
Veruca Salt. Extremely annoying.
And if you still haven’t had your fill of peaches, Twits and champions… have a gander at this on Instagram…