The Maker of Music, The Dreamer of Dreams: Reading Roald Dahl

For the past few months, I've been binge-reading the set of Roald Dahl books I asked for for Christmas two years ago. I remember reading a handful of his books when I was actually in the target age range, but, as a kidlit enthusiast, I was more than willing to devote an hour or two to each of the 15 phizz-whizzing books in the set.

The Good

Some of his books are popular for a simple reason - they're GREAT. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda (which I re-read before seeing the musical last summer), James and the Giant Peach, The BFG...basically, if it was eventually made into a movie, it's creativity at its best. I was also super into The Giraffe, The Pelly, and Me, because it could be the basis for a random Adventure Time episode, and The Enormous Crocodile (which wasn't actually part of my box set, but was one I mysteriously had on my shelves), though that was largely due to Quentin Blake’s hilarious illustrations (the crocodile dressed as a palm tree is my favourite). 

You can write anything for children as long as you’ve got humour.

The Bad

Esio Tort is pretty lame and super problematic if you actually dissect the story (please read Patrick Rothfuss’ scathing review for a) a laugh and b) an idea of how sub-par this installment is). 

The Twits would probably be more entertaining if I was actually 7 and not almost-27…instead, I was just kinda grossed out.

And Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator felt like I was on some vaguely racist drug the whole time. So there's that. 

The So-So

There's nothing wrong with Danny: The Champion of the World. It's a cute story with a clever ending, but my gosh, I was bored. It wasn't as whimsical as most of his other work, which, I think, was my problem.

The box set also included Dahl’s two attempts at writing his memoirs: Boy and Going Solo. They're both well written and he only picked the good parts to talk about, but, being non-fiction, I didn't find his real life adventures as compelling as his made up worlds (though they're still impressive).

As for the rest of the books in the set...they all sorta fall into the "So-So" category. Still, it won't take you long to read them, so if you're looking for some light kidlit (or, you know, actually have children to read to), Roald Dahl is a master.