In our ‘Celebrating Roald Dahl’ series, in honour of what would have been his 100th birthday this year, today we present to you a definitive list of our favourite titles!
The Witches (1983)
As terrifying as it is hilarious! In the first title on our list, a tragically orphaned boy is sent to live with his grandmother, who eerily warns him to be wary of witches. The story starts to get creepy when the pair travel to the South Coast of England together, where they happen to be holidaying in the same hotel as a terrifying group of witches that are holding a convention.
The event has been organised by the most evil of one all: the Grand High Witch. Each of these horrible hags is part of a sinister plot to exterminate England’s children… By turning them into mice! The tale (pun very much intended) follows the boy and his grandmother’s antics as they try to stop them. While this does all sound completely, totally bonkers — and also like a very traumatising read for young children — The Witches is one of Roald Dahl’s most iconic stories, and certainly worth a read.
The Twits (1980)
This funny – and frankly rather disgusting – story features an old couple who just so happen to hate one another’s guts (they also live with pet monkeys that they abuse). While this might sound bizarre and depressing, it actually makes for hilarious reading; with a story that’s sure to make you chuckle in delight as much as disbelief.
If you’re looking for a title that includes inspiration on how to trick your husband into eating worms or float away your wife by tying her to helium balloons, this one’s for you.
Esio Trot (1990)
tells a unique, heartwarming tale about a man who slowly falls in love with a woman who happens to be rather obsessed with her pet tortoise. In a bid to make her notice him and ensure his love is requited, the man – Mr. Hoppy – helps the woman, known as Mrs Silver, cast a spell on the tortoise so that it grows, but it eventually grows so much that it no longer fits in Mrs. Silver’s house.
Fun, innocent, light-hearted romance (also sprinkled with a touch of Dahl’s craziness) make Esio Trot a wonderful read. And did you notice? The name is tortoise spelt backwards.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
There’s no doubt that you’ll already be familiar with Mr Willie Wonka and his world-famous chocolate factory, but if you’ve only seen the films and have not yet read this book — possibly Dahl’s most famous one – you are in for a sweet, tasty treat. From the very first page, readers are immersed in a delightful world filled with descriptions of the most delicious foods you could ever imagine. Throw in a few oddly dark yet hilarious characters, and it’s no wonder Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of Dahl’s most iconic, and most loved titles. This is a book that appeals to all ages, and senses – particularly those that have a sweet tooth!
Top spot on our definitive list, couldn’t go to anyone else but the cute, courageous and charismatic Matilda. This is the story of a sweet, well-mannered precocious little girl named Matilda, who happens to be extremely gifted. Her wondrous intelligence is puzzling, as she is very different from the rest of her family. Ignored at home all the time, Matilda escapes into a world of reading, exercising her mind so much she develops telekinetic powers.
Good thing, too, as she’s swiftly sent off to a school headed by a cruel hulking monster, principal Agatha Trunchbull. Amid the darkness of the school, Matilda finds a single light in warm-hearted Miss Honey, the first-grade teacher who recognises the girl’s remarkable skills – including a very special talent for telekineses.
This is fundamentally a tale of good versus evil, but no topic, no matter how many times it has been told before, is boring when it is written by Roald Dahl. His imagination, creativeness and inventiveness make this children’s story one-of-a-kind, and it will stay with you for years after you read it. Once again, don’t just watch the film – open up the book and let your imagination run wild.