We owe it to each other to tell stories - Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Roald Dahl Month gives readers the chance to get to know the author of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

Who is your favorite author? If you said Roald Dahl, you're not alone.

From "Matilda" and "The BFG" to "The Witches" and "James and the Giant Peach," millions of kids around the world are gobbling up Dahl's books. This September, readers have even more to celebrate with Roald Dahl Month.

Dahl was born in Wales on Sept. 16, 1916. He grew up the only boy in a household of sisters, living in England until the age of 18. As a child, Dahl loved stories and books, but he wasn't a good student, earning poor school reports calling him a poor reader with limited ideas. Writing books for children was not even an interest. At 18, Dahl went to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa, and when World War II broke out, he became a fighter pilot in Britain's Royal Air Force.

In 1942, Dahl was injured and transferred to Washington, D.C. It was there that Dahl began to write. It wasn't long until his first short story — an account of his adventures during the war — was published by the Saturday Evening Post, an American magazine. It took Dahl 15 years of writing for adults before he turned to children's literature. By then, he had children of his own and was busy making up bedtime stories for them. That's where "James and the Giant Peach," published in 1961, came from. His second book, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (1964), followed with great success. Kids today might be surprised to learn that Dahl never learned to use on a typewriter or a computer. He wrote all his books by hand, with a pencil.

And if you think all the illustrations in Dahl's books look familiar, that's because they are. With the exception of one book, Quentin Blake illustrated all of Dahl's children's books. It was a partnership that lasted until Dahl's death, and it was one of respect and admiration.

"It is Quent's pictures rather than my own written descriptions that have brought to life such characters as the BFG, Miss Trunchbull, Mr. twit and The Grand High Witch," Dahl once said. "Most of (the illustrations) he does entirely on his own, and they are far better and funnier than anything I could think of."

Dahl passed away on Nov. 13, 1990, at the age of 74 from a rare blood disorder. He wrote more than 60 works for adults and children. In addition to American and United Kingdom versions of his children's books, Dahl's writing has been translated into 34 languages.

In conjunction with Roald Dahl Month, a new Dahl book, "The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets," is now available. Inside, readers will find a never-before published missing chapter from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" along with other secrets about Dahl's characters and the author himself.

Readers can visit www.roalddahl.com for a number of activity sheets, games and trivia questions along with information on the four-month-long "Roald Dahl Reading Dahlathon," which runs through December and gives kids the chance to win medals, books and other prizes.

Taken from Deseret News

Friday, 17 September 2010

Friday fill-ins

1. Laughter truly is the best medicine.

2. Hey aunty Aileen are the three words that started off the last email I sent.

3. What I'm most looking forward to today is having some chocolate cake at tea time.

4.My cats Harbijhan and Snakey put a smile on my face.

5. Where in the world are my Oakleys?

6. Getting new flashes is just what I needed!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading Revolutionary Road, tomorrow my plans include finishing Revolutionary Road and Sunday, I want to watch Australia!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Witches

As I am sure I have mentioned before, growing up The Witches by Roald Dahl was one of my favourite books. Rivalled only by E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. I re-read this marvellous book last week, and was just reminded of why Roald Dahl is one of my favourite authors!! The adjectives that he uses are just superb, and reminiscent of an English that I have always wanted to use.

But back to The Witches...

I was still very impressionable when I first read this book, and totally believed that Dahl was telling the truth when he said that there really are witches. Re-reading this book I can see why I believed that. Much like Garcia Marquez, Eugenides and Salinger - Dahl writes what he knows. If you have read Boy then you will understand what I mean. But back to the point that I was making - Dahl writes with such conviction that you cannot help but believe what he says -I mean his description of witches is spectacular and how could you possibly doubt what he says when he writes so vividly?

About witches, Dahl says:
"In fariy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. The most important thing you should know about REAL WITCHES is this. Listen very carefully. Never forget what is coming next. REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ORDINARY JOBS."

In the world of witches, children are public enemy number 1 - "A REAL WITCH hates children with a red-hot sizzling hatred that is more sizzling and red-hot than any hatred you could possibly imagine."

But my favourite part of this Note about Witches, is the way that witches look and Dahl gives us a concise guide on How to Recognise a witch. "a REAL witch is certain always to be wearing gloves when you meet her... because she does not have fingernails, she has thin curvy claws, like a cat. and she wears gloves to hide them... the second thing to remember is that a REAL WITCH is always bald... A real witch always wears a wig to hide her baldness. She wears a first-class wig from ordinary hair unless you give it a pull to see if it comes off... however, these wigs do cause a rather serious problem for witches... they make the scalp itch most terribly... witches have slightly larger nose holes than ordinary people. The rim of each nose hole is pink and curvy, like the rim of a certain kind of seashell."

And then ofcourse there are the other characteristics that witches have - such as spit that is blue, and feet with no toes, and then their eyes. Eyes with pupils that constantly change colour. If ever you should come along a woman with this description - run, run as fast as you can!!!

Armed with this knowledge, our narrator finds himself in the midst of hundreds of witches at a hotel which he is holidaying at with his grandmother. And as luck would have it at the end of the meeting of the witches who are pretending that they are the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. How ironic, considering witches hate children. Our narrator is turned into a mouse by these witches, but fortunately for him, he is not any ordinary mouse, and has retained his ability to speak. And luckily for him he has a fantastic grandmother who does not shriek at the sight of a mouse.

Our narrator and his grandmother make the best of a bad situation, and decide to use the witches secret weapon - Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse Maker - against them, and turn them all into mice. I like that there is a happy ending to this story despite our narrator remaining a mouse, but he and his grandmother set out on an adventure to rid the world of all witches - so that leaves you with some hope for the children of the world.

If I had to give this story a rating, I would give it a solid 5 stars for its entertainment value.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A month of Dahl!!!

In celebration of Roald Dahl Day on 13 September, I thought that I would dedicate this month's posts to Roald Dahl - my favourite children's author. If you have not read a Roald Dahl book yet, then shame on you!!! Reading Roald Dahl is as much a rite of passage as reading The Catcher in the Rye and watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off. If you have not done any of these things, I just have one question for you... Have you been living under a rock???? These things are very important when it comes to popular culture!!!!! So GO DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, here is some information about Roald Dahl which I have taken from the first page of the Puffin Edition of Roald Dahl's Going Solo...

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 in Wales of Norwegian parents. He spent his childhood in England and was educated at Repton. At eighteen he went to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa... Roald Dahl is one of the most succesful and well known of all children's writers. His books, which are read by children the world over, include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Magic Finger, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Fantastic Mr Fox, Matilda, The Twits, The BFG and the Witches, winner of the 1983 Whitbread Award. Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of seventy-four.