So apparently I missed something for half my life and that is the fact that many of the movies that I watched growing up were the product of the children’s stories by Roald Dahl. Yep, except for Matilda, I totally missed the fact that Roald Dahl wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which became the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder) and The Witches, which was adapted into a movie by the same name (Angelica Houston), along with many others. It wasn’t until a few years ago, during a conversation with a fellow reporter about children’s books that I made this discovery.
So when I saw a bunch of Dahl books being sold at a recent library book sale, I grabbed them. I knew that unless I had them in my possession, I probably would never get around to reading them until I had kids of my own. Last month, I actually had a gap in my required reading and decided that quick, easy reads were just what I needed. So I grabbed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches off my shelf, because those were the two I was most familiar with. And I am happy to report, the versions of the story that I had grown up with through the movies are still in tact because both movie adaptations followed closely to the books, for the most part.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about a boy who lives in a town that houses the famous but mysterious Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. For years, the factory was all but shuttered to the outside but then one day there is an announcement that Wonka will bring five kids to tour the factory. They just have to find the five golden tickets. Charlie is a poor boy who doesn’t have the luxury of buying multiple candy bars but alas, luck is in his favor as he is one the five. The rest of the book is about the children’s experiences on the tour with the weird Mr. Wonka and his Oompa Loompas.
The changes made to the movie adaptation were subtle so reading this book was still enjoyable. I was glad to see that the plot was the same, though I was surprised by how “preachy” the book seemed. I mean I always understood that each of the kids depicted a bad habit but in the movie its subtle and blends in with the storyline. In the book, it is more in your face. Maybe because I am an adult I noticed it more. If I was a child reading this, I would probably take it for the lesson that is supposed to be learned. I actually like how the movie gave Charlie a lapse in judgement when he and his grandpa actually try the fizzy lifting drinks whereas in the book, the drink is just mentioned as one of the many inventions that Wonka is working on. In the book, I felt Charlie and his grandpa were kind of judgemental. They were depicted as the ones that do no wrong and judge others. Overall though, the book is definitely an imaginative story that children can enjoy for years.
As for The Witches, I was happy to see the story was pretty much the same as the movie. In fact, I was rewatching the movie in my head as I read through it. I should mention Angelica Houston will always be imprinted on my brain for her terrifying role as the head witch. She scared the sh*t out of me when I was a kid. So as I read the book, despite the pictures, I just kept envisioning her.
The Witches is about a young boy who lives with his grandma after being recently orphaned. He grew up hearing stories about witches but he never expects to actually see one. Then when he and his grandma go to a hotel, they realize they are at the same hotel that is holding the annual meeting for the witches. The boy discovers a shocking secret and he and his grandma must outsmart the witches or else.
While I will always love the movie, I definitely enjoyed the book since it provided a little more background, especially about the adorable grandma and her knowledge of the witches. I loved the grandma in the book. I also liked how you get to understand the Witches and what their secret is.
This was a really quick read and is definitely a page turner. Even though I knew already knew the story line, I was captivated throughout the book. Dahl definitely has some imagination.
So I will say the start of my Dahl read through has been a success. I can’t wait to reread Matilda since I love that story. I also have the BFG, which I plan to read and watch the movie at the same time. Stay tuned for those in the near future.