The BFG ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The BFG
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 138
Words: 38K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Sophie, an eight-year-old girl in an orphanage, cannot sleep. Looking out of her window, she sees a mysterious giant in the street, carrying a suitcase and a trumpet. The giant sees Sophie, who tries to hide in bed, but the giant picks her up through the window. Sophie is carried to a large cave in the middle of a desolate land, where the giant sets her down. Believing that he intends to eat her, Sophie pleads for her life, but the giant laughs and dismisses the idea. He explains that although most giants do eat humans, he does not, because he is the Big Friendly Giant, or BFG.

The BFG explains, in a unique and muddled speech, that his nine neighbours are much bigger and stronger giants, who all happily eat humans every night. They vary their choice of destination both to avoid detection and because the people’s origins affect their taste. For example, people from Greece taste greasy, and so no giant goes there, while people from Panama taste of hats. As he will never allow Sophie to leave in case she tells anyone of his existence, the BFG reveals the purpose of his suitcase and trumpet: he catches dreams in Dream Country, collects them in jars, and gives the good ones to children all around the world, but destroys the bad ones. Since he does not eat people, he must eat the only crop which grows in his land—the repulsive snozzcumber, which looks like a cucumber.

When the Bloodbottler, one of the other giants, enters the cave, Sophie hides in the snozzcumber; not knowing this, the BFG tricks the Bloodbottler into eating the vegetable. Luckily, the larger giant spits her out and leaves in disgust. They then drink frobscottle, a delicious fizzy drink where the bubbles sink downwards rather than upwards, causing noisy flatulence, which the BFG calls “whizzpopping”. The BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country, but is bullied along the way by his neighbours, led by Fleshlumpeater, the largest and strongest. Sophie watches the BFG catch two dreams—while one would be a good dream, the other is a nightmare. The BFG uses it on Fleshlumpeater, who has a dream about a giant-killer named Jack and accidentally starts a brawl with his companions.

Sophie persuades the BFG to approach the Queen of England for help with the other giants. She navigates the giant to Buckingham Palace, where he places her in the Queen’s bedroom. He then gives the Queen a nightmare which closely parallels real events; because the BFG placing Sophie in her bedroom was part of the dream, the Queen believes her and speaks with the giant over breakfast. Fully convinced, she authorises a task force to travel to the giants’ homeland and secure them as they sleep. The BFG guides a fleet of helicopters to the sleeping giants. Eight are successfully shackled, but Fleshlumpeater awakes; Sophie and the BFG trick him into being tied up. Having collected the BFG’s dream collection, the helicopters carry the giants back to England, where they are imprisoned in a massive pit.

Every country that the giants had visited in the past send thanks and gifts the BFG and Sophie, for whom residences are built in Windsor Great Park. Tourists come in huge numbers to watch the giants in the pit, who are now fed only on snozzcumbers; they receive an unexpected snack when three drunks manage to climb the fence and fall in. The BFG receives the official title of Royal Dream-Blower, and continues bestowing dreams upon children; he also learns to speak and write more intelligibly, writing a book identified as the novel itself, under another’s name.

My Thoughts:

I have not re-read this book since the 90’s (I have no record of it since I started keeping track in April of 2000) and yet, I remembered it all. How does Dahl do that?!?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

George’s Marvelous Medicine ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: George’s Marvelous Medicine
Series: ———-
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 63
Words: 12.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

While eight-year-old George Kranky’s parents are out grocery shopping, his elderly maternal grandmother bosses him around and bullies him. She intimidates George by saying that she likes to eat insects and he wonders briefly if she’s a witch. To punish her for her regular abuse, George decides to make a magic medicine to replace her old one. He collects a variety of ingredients from around the family farm including deodorant and shampoo from the bathroom, floor polish from the laundry room, horseradish sauce and gin from the kitchen, animal medicines, engine oil and anti-freeze from the garage, and brown paint to mimic the colour of the original medicine.

After cooking the ingredients in the kitchen, George gives it as medicine to his grandmother, who grows as tall as the house, bursting through the roof. When his grandmother doesn’t believe it was George who made her grow so tall, he proves it by feeding the medicine to one of his father’s chickens, which grows ten times its original size. As they return home, George’s parents can’t believe their eyes when they see the fattest chicken ever and the grandmother. George’s father grows very excited at the thought of rearing giant animals. He has George feed the medicine to the rest of the farm’s animals, causing them to become giants as well. However, his grandmother begins complaining about being ignored and stuck in the roof, so Mr. Kranky hires a crane to remove her from the house. Her extreme height has her sleeping in the barn for the next few nights.

The following morning, Mr. Kranky is still excited about George’s medicine and announces that he and George shall make gallons of it to sell to farmers around the world, which would make his family rich. George attempts to recreate it but is unable to remember all the ingredients. The second version makes a chicken’s legs grow extremely long, and the third elongates a chicken’s neck to bizarre proportions. The fourth has the opposite effect of the first and makes animals shrink. George’s grandmother, now even more angry she’s sleeping in the barn, storms over and starts complaining loudly that she’s once again sick of being ignored. She sees the cup of medicine in George’s hand and erroneously mistakes it for tea. Much to his and Mrs. Kranky’s horror, and Mr. Kranky’s delight, she drinks the entire cup and shrinks so much that she vanishes completely. At first, Mrs. Kranky is shocked, confused and distraught about the sudden, and very strange disappearance of her mother, but soon accepts that she was becoming a nuisance anyway. In the last page, George is left to think about the implications of his actions, feeling as though they had granted him access to the edge of a magic world.

My Thoughts:

I am coming to the conclusion that this will probably be my final read of Dahl’s body of work for my own enjoyment. Not that I am disliking them but I do want “more” and these don’t offer that any more. I feel that in my multiple reads I have plumbed the depths of these stories and I would rather explore a new author or series than to re-tread material this familiar to me.

That is in no way a denigration of Dahl’s skill as a writer or a story teller, but I’ve realized that I’ve done a bit of growing up in the last 15 years and I cannot go back. Reading these books have been an attempt to see if I could actually go back, but as we all know, time only flows in one direction.

I have to admit, I am surprised this was published as is. George puts in a LOT of nasty stuff into his medicine and even I know that some of them would kill you outright. If I read this to a kid, I’d be keeping an eye on them for the next week or two to make sure they didn’t try to experiment on themselves or others 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Fantastic Mr Fox ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress & Blogspot by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Fantastic Mr Fox
Series: ———-
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 58
Words: 10K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Mr Fox is an anthropomorphic, tricky, and clever fox who lives underground beside a tree with his wife and four children. To feed his family, he makes nightly visits to local farms owned by three cruel, rude, wicked and dim-witted farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean, whereupon he seizes the livestock available on each man’s farm; chickens from Boggis, ducks or geese from Bunce, and turkeys from Bean. Tired of being outsmarted by Mr Fox, the triumvirate devise a plan to ambush him as he leaves his burrow, but they succeed only in shooting off his tail.

The three farmers then dig up the Foxes’ burrow using spades and then excavators. The Foxes manage to escape by burrowing further beneath the ground to safety. The farmers are ridiculed for their persistence, but they refuse to give up and vow not to return to their farms until they have caught Mr Fox. They then choose to lay siege to the fox, surrounding Mr Fox’s hole and waiting until he is hungry enough to come out. Cornered by their enemies, Mr Fox and his family, and all the other underground creatures that live around the hill, begin to starve.

After three days trapped underground, Mr Fox devises a plot to acquire food. Working from his memory of the routes he has taken above ground, he and his children tunnel through the ground and wind up burrowing to one of Boggis’s four chicken houses. Mr Fox kills several chickens and sends his son to carry the animals back home to Mrs Fox. On the way to their next destination, Mr Fox runs into his friend Badger and asks him to accompany him on his mission, as well as to extend an invitation to the feast to the other burrowing animals – Badger and his family, as well as the Moles, the Rabbits and the Weasels – to apologize for getting them caught up in the farmers’ hunt. Aided by Badger, the animals tunnel to Bunce’s storehouse for ducks, geese, hams, bacon and carrots, and then to Bean’s secret cider cellar. Here, they are nearly caught by the Beans’ servant Mabel and have an unpleasant confrontation with the cellar’s resident, Rat. They carry their loot back home, where Mrs Fox has prepared a great celebratory banquet for the starving underground animals and their families.

At the table, Mr Fox invites everyone to live in a secret underground neighbourhood with him and his family, where he will hunt on their behalf daily and where none of them will need to worry about the farmers anymore. Everyone joyfully cheers for this idea, while Boggis, Bunce, and Bean are left waiting in vain for the fox to emerge from his hole.

The book ends with the words “And so far as I know, they are still waiting.”

My Thoughts:

This was a very short story but much like any of Dahl’s stuff, it is just chockful of children’y goodness. If you smoke cigars, wear a monocle and wonder when Queen Victoria is going to get off her duff and kick some sense into little Charlie and his progeny, well, this might not be the story for you.

On the other hand, if talking foxes and badgers raiding chicken farmers makes perfect sense to you, then I’d say you’d better read this without delay. Get cracking slackers, I know you haven’t read this!

Because if you had, you’d be lamenting the fact that I haven’t even mentioned the existential crisis exhibited by Mrs Fox or the symbolic suffering represented by the Fox children who are starving to death. The dehumanizing representation of Boggis, Bunce and Bean is one the most clever ever shown in literature but at the same time falls prey to most representations’s common problem, ie, the Jungian ideals fall flat upon their backsides when examined in the light of chaos theory. Yep, you can’t beat Scyenze for figuring out how to make other people do what you want. Dahl was obviously a great Scyenzetist! Bow low you plebes before your lord and master!!!!!!!!!!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Witches ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Witches
Series: ———-
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 122
Words: 37.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story is narrated from the perspective of an unnamed seven-year-old English boy, who goes to live with his Norwegian grandmother after his parents are killed in a tragic car accident. The boy loves all his grandmother’s stories, but he is especially enthralled by the stories about real-life witches who she says are horrific female demons who seek to kill human children. She tells him how to recognise them, and that she is a retired witch hunter (she, herself, had an encounter with a witch when she was a child, which left her with a missing thumb).

According to the boy’s grandmother, a real witch looks exactly like an ordinary woman, but there are ways of telling whether she is a witch: real witches have claws instead of fingernails, which they hide by wearing gloves; are bald, which they hide by wearing wigs that often make them break out in rashes; have square feet with no toes, which they hide by wearing uncomfortable pointy shoes; have eyes with pupils that change colours; have blue spit which they use for ink, and have large nostrils which they use to sniff out children; to a witch, a child smells of fresh dogs droppings; the dirtier the child, the less likely she is to smell them.

As specified in the parents’ will, the narrator and his grandmother return to England, where he was born and had attended school, and where the house he is inheriting is located. However, the grandmother warns the boy to be on his guard, since English witches are known to be among the most vicious in the world, notorious for turning children into loathsome creatures so that unsuspecting adults will kill them. She also assures him that there are fewer witches in England than there are in Norway.

The grandmother reveals that witches in different countries have different customs and that, while the witches in each country have close affiliations with one another, they are not allowed to communicate with witches from other countries. She also tells him about the mysterious Grand High Witch of All the World, the feared and diabolical leader of all of the world’s witches, who visits their councils in every country, each year.

Shortly after arriving back in England, while the boy is working on the roof of his treehouse, he sees a strange woman in black staring up at him with an eerie smile and quickly registers that she is a witch. When the witch offers him a snake to tempt him to come down to her, he climbs further up the tree and stays there, not daring to come down until his grandmother comes looking for him. This persuades the boy and his grandmother to be especially wary, and he carefully scrutinizes all women to determine whether they might be witches.

When the grandmother becomes ill with pneumonia, the doctor orders her to cancel a planned holiday in Norway (she and her grandson had planned to go there). The doctor explains that pneumonia can be very dangerous when a person is 80 or older (she later reveals in the book that she is 86), and therefore, he cannot even move her to the hospital in her condition. Instead, about two weeks later when she has recovered, they go to a luxury hotel in Bournemouth on England’s south coast.

The boy is training his pet mice, William and Mary, given to him as a consolation present by his grandmother after the loss of his parents, in the hotel ballroom when the “Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children” show up for their annual meeting. When one of them reaches underneath her hair to scratch at her scalp with a gloved hand, the boy realizes that this is the yearly gathering of England’s witches (all of the other women are wearing gloves as well), but he is trapped in the room.

A young woman goes on stage and removes her entire face, which is a mask. The narrator realizes that this is no other than the Grand High Witch herself. She expresses her displeasure at the English witches’ failure to eliminate enough children, and thus demands that they exterminate the lot of them before the next meeting. She exterminates a witch who questions whether it will be possible to wipe out all of Britain’s children.

The Grand High Witch unveils her master plan: all of England’s witches are to purchase sweet shops (with counterfeited money printed by her from a magical money-making machine) and give away free sweets and chocolates laced with a drop of her latest creation: “Formula 86 Delayed-Action Mouse-Maker”, a magic potion which turns the consumer into a mouse at a specified time set by the potion-maker. The intent is for the children’s teachers and parents to unwittingly kill the transformed children, thus doing the witches’ dirty work for them so that nobody will ever find the witches because they are unaware that it was their doing.

To demonstrate the formula’s effectiveness, the Grand High Witch brings in a child named Bruno Jenkins, a rich and often greedy boy lured to the convention hall with the promise of free chocolate. She reveals that she had tricked Bruno into eating a chocolate bar laced with the formula the day before, and had set the “alarm” to go off during the meeting. The potion takes effect, transforming Bruno into a mouse before the assembled witches.

Shortly after, the witches detect the narrator’s presence and corner him. The Grand High Witch then pours an entire bottle of Formula 86 down his throat, and the overdose instantly turns him into a mouse. However, the transformed child retains his mentality, personality and even his voice – refusing to be lured into a mouse-trap. After tracking down Bruno, the transformed boy returns to his grandmother’s hotel room and tells her what he has learned. He suggests turning the tables on the witches by slipping the potion into their evening meal. With some difficulty, he manages to get his hands on a bottle of the potion from the Grand High Witch’s room.

After an attempt to return Bruno to his parents fails spectacularly (mainly due to his mother’s fear of mice), the grandmother takes Bruno and the narrator to the dining hall. The narrator enters the kitchen, where he pours the potion into the green pea soup intended for the witches’ dinner. On the way back from the kitchen, a cook spots the narrator and chops off part of his tail with a carving knife, before he manages to escape back to his grandmother. The witches all turn into mice within a few minutes, having had massive overdoses just like the narrator. The hotel staff and the guests all panic and unknowingly end up killing the Grand High Witch and all of England’s witches.

Having returned home, the boy and his grandmother then devise a plan to rid the world of witches. His grandmother, by impersonating the chief of police of Norway on the telephone, discovered that the Grand High Witch was living in a castle in that country. They will travel to the Grand High Witch’s Norwegian castle, and use the potion to change her successor and the successor’s assistants into mice, then release cats to destroy them. Using the Grand High Witch’s money-making machine and information on witches in various countries, they will try to eradicate them everywhere. The grandmother also reveals that, as a mouse, the boy will probably only live for about another nine years, but the boy does not mind, as he does not want to outlive his grandmother (she reveals that she is also likely to live for only nine more years), as he would hate to have anyone else look after him.

My Thoughts:

Yep, still as good as when I read it back in ’12 and the many times in the 90’s as well.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Esio Trot ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Esio Trot
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Short Story
Pages: 14
Words: 4.5K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Mr Hoppy is a shy elderly man who lives alone in an apartment, tending to his many plants, which have been the centre of his life since he retired from his job in a bus garage several years before. For many years, he has had a secret love whose name was Mrs Silver. She lives in the flat below his, and he frequently leans over his balcony and exchanges polite conversations with Mrs Silver, but his courage fails him whenever he prepares to hint at his true feelings for her.

Mrs Silver has a small pet tortoise, Alfie, who is the centre of her world. One morning, Mrs Silver mentions to Mr Hoppy that even though she has owned Alfie for many years, he has only grown a tiny bit and has gained only 13 ounces in weight. She confesses that she wishes she knew of some way to make her little Alfie grow into a larger, more dignified tortoise. Mr Hoppy suddenly thinks of a way to give Mrs Silver her wish and win her heart.

Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver that he — in fact — knows a way to make a tortoise grow bigger. He writes the following words on a slip of paper, and lowers it down to Mrs Silver:

ESIO TROT, ESIO TROT,

TEG REGGIB REGGIB,

EMOC NO, ESIO TROT,

WORG PU, FFUP PU, TOOHS PU,

GNIRPS PU, WOLB PU, LLEWS PU!

EGROG! ELZZUG! FFUTS! PLUG!

TUP NO TAF, ESIO TROT, TUP NO TAF,

OG NO, OG NO, ELBBOG DOOF.

Mr Hoppy explains that these magic words, when whispered in Alfie’s ear three times a day, will cause Alfie to grow bigger and bigger. Mrs Silver is doubtful, but agrees to try. (The words are, reversed, Tortoise, tortoise, get bigger bigger! Come on, tortoise, grow up, puff up, shoot up! Spring up, blow up, swell up! Gorge! Guzzle! Stuff! Gulp! Put on fat, tortoise, put on fat! Go on, go on, gobble food!)

Over the next few days, Mr Hoppy carries out the second part of his plan. He visits every pet shop in the city, and buys many tortoises of various sizes, but none that weigh less than 13 ounces. Mr Hoppy brings all the tortoises back to his flat and installs them in a makeshift corral in his living room. Next, Mr Hoppy builds a special tool to help him snatch the tortoise from Mrs Silver’s balcony. He fastens a handle to the end of a long metal tube, and a tiny claw at the bottom. By pulling the handle, the arms of the claw gently open and close.

The following day, when Mrs Silver left for work, Mr Hoppy selects a tortoise from his living room that weighs exactly 15 ounces. He carefully picked Alfie up from the lower balcony, and exchanged him with the new tortoise. When Mrs Silver returned home, she faithfully whispers the magic words in Alfie’s ear, but does not notice that an exchange has been made.

Over the next 8 weeks, Mr Hoppy continues to switch Mrs Silver’s current pet with a slightly larger tortoise, but she still does not perceive that her pet is growing in size. One afternoon, Mrs Silver comments to Mr Hoppy that Alfie seems a bit bigger, but can not tell for sure. Suddenly, Mrs Silver notices that Alfie can no longer fit through the door to his house, and exclaims to Mr Hoppy that his spell is sure to be working. Mrs Silver runs inside and weighs her pet, and is surprised to find that Alfie now weighs 27 ounces, more than double the weight he was before. Mr Hoppy summons his courage and asks Mrs Silver if he can come down and see the effect for himself. Mrs Silver, in raptures over her pet’s transformation, gladly grants his request.

Mr Hoppy runs down the stairs, nervous and excited to be on the brink of winning Mrs Silver’s love. Mrs Silver flings open the door, embraces Mr Hoppy, and expresses her admiration for Mr Hoppy’s magical spell. However, the tortoise cannot fit in the house now, so Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver to say the magic spell properly. On the next night he secretly replaces this tortoise with one slightly smaller one. His part works splendidly, and Mr Hoppy, suddenly emboldened by Mrs Silver’s warm smile, asks Mrs Silver for her hand in marriage. Mrs Silver delightedly accepts Mr Hoppy’s proposal, then adds that she thought he would never get around to asking. “All due to Alfie!” she cries.

Mr Hoppy secretly returns all the tortoises in his living room back to their respective pet shops, telling all the owners that they didn’t need to pay. Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver are happily married a few weeks later. The “original” Alfie is bought by a girl called Roberta Squibb after he is returned to a pet shop; moreover, after many years, he does indeed grow to double his size before.

My Thoughts:

You know, I ended up thinking the EXACT SAME THING as I did when I read this in ’12. An overly complicated solution to something that could have been sorted out in 5minutes. That’s not necessarily bad, but I was hoping for a new revelation (as it were).

Of course, being a short story of just 14 pages (with pictures mind you), it’s hard to get to the bones of the story, as it doesn’t have any 😀

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Series: Charlie Bucket #2
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 117
Words: 32K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

The story picks up where the previous book left off, with Charlie and family aboard the flying Great Glass Elevator after Willy Wonka has rewarded him with the ownership of his chocolate factory. The Elevator accidentally goes into orbit, and Mr. Wonka docks them at the Space Hotel USA. Their interception of the hotel is mistaken by approaching astronauts and hotel staff in a Commuter Capsule and listeners on Earth (including the President of the United States) as an act of space piracy and they are variously accused of being enemy agents, spies and aliens. Shortly after their arrival, they discover that the hotel has been overrun by dangerous, shape-changing alien monsters known as The Vermicious Knids. The Knids cannot resist showing off and reveal themselves by using the five hotel elevators (with one Knid in each of them) and spell out the word “SCRAM”, giving the group time to evacuate. As the group leaves, a Knid follows the Great Glass Elevator and tries to break it open, but to no avail, which results in the Knid receiving a bruise on its backside and hungering for payback.

Meanwhile, with the Great Glass Elevator’s passengers gone, the President allows the Commuter Capsule to dock with the Space Hotel. Upon entry by the astronauts and the Space Hotel staff, the Knids attack by eating fourteen of the staff, prompting an immediate evacuation by the rest of the group. The Great Glass Elevator comes back just in time to see the entire Knid infestation coming in on the attack, bashing the Commuter Capsule to the point where the retrorockets cannot be fired to initiate immediate reentry and the communication antenna cannot keep the astronauts in communication with the President. Charlie suggests towing the Commuter Capsule back to Earth, and, despite a last attempt by the Knids to tow the two craft away to their home planet Vermes, in the process the Knids are incinerated in Earth’s atmosphere. Mr. Wonka releases the Commuter Capsule, while the Elevator crashes down through the roof of the chocolate factory.

Back in the chocolate factory, three of Charlie’s grandparents refuse to leave their bed. Mr. Wonka gives them a rejuvenation formula called “Wonka-Vite”. They take much more than they need (4 pills instead of 1 or 2), subtracting 80 years (which reduces their age by 20 years per pill). Two become babies, but 78-year-old Grandma Georgina vanishes, having become “−2”. Charlie and Mr. Wonka journey to “Minusland”, where they track down Grandma Georgina’s spirit. As she has no physical presence, Mr. Wonka sprays her with the opposite of “Wonka-Vite” – “Vita-Wonk” – in order to age her again. Mr. Wonka admits that it is not an accurate way to age a person, but the spray is the only way to dose “minuses”. Upon leaving Minusland, they discover that Grandma Georgina is now 358 years old. Using cautious doses of Wonka-Vite and Vita-Wonk, the three grandparents are restored to their original ages.

Finally, the President of the United States invites the family and Mr. Wonka to the White House to thank them for their space rescue. The family and Wonka accept the invitation (including the grandparents who finally agree to get out of their beds) and prepare to leave.

My Thoughts:

When I read the Charlie Bucket books back in elementary, middle and high school, I always enjoyed The Great Glass Elevator more than Chocolate Factory. Back then I think it was because of the SF elements (space, spaceships, aliens, negative land, etc) in Elevator that simply weren’t in Factory. So when I read the duology this year (Chocolate Factory was read in January) I was expecting to like Elevator more once again. Imagine my surprise when I got done this book and realized that Chocolate Factory is not only the better book but also more enjoyable.

Part of that is that the premise to this book is beyond even ridiculous. It’s hilarious and I still love it, but it just hit me that it WAS ridiculous this time around and so my enjoyment was lessened. I wasn’t able to enter into the silliness like Dahl intended. The other thing that lessened my enjoyment was that the other 3 grandparents played a part in the story this time and they were stinkers. Made me shake my head and wonder how Charlie turned out so well.

Other than that, I enjoyed the ever living daylights out of this. Willy Wonka is a genius who is always in control no matter the circumstances and Charlie is a smart boy who THINKS before he reacts. More kids need examples like that in their entertainment.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Little Princess ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: A Little Princess
Series: ———-
Authors: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children’s Lit
Pages: 167
Words: 67K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Captain Ralph Crewe, a wealthy English widower, has been raising his only child, Sara, in India where he is stationed with the British Army. Because the Indian climate is considered too harsh for children, British families living there traditionally send their children to boarding school back home in England. The Captain enrolls his seven-year-old daughter at Miss Minchin’s boarding school for girls in London and dotes on his daughter so much that he orders and pays the headmistress for special treatment and exceptional luxuries for Sara, such as a private room for her with a personal maid and a separate sitting room (see Parlour boarder), along with Sara’s own private carriage and a pony. Miss Minchin openly fawns over Sara for her money, but is secretly bitter toward her for her wealth.

In spite of said wealth, Sara is not self-centered, rude, or snobbish, but rather kind, generous, and compassionate. She extends her friendship to Ermengarde St. John, the school dunce; to Lottie, a four-year-old pupil given to tantrums; and to Becky, the lowly, stunted scullery maid. When Sara acquires the epithet “princess”, she embraces its favorable elements in her natural kindheartedness.

After some time, Sara’s eleventh birthday is celebrated at Miss Minchin’s with a lavish party, attended by all her friends and classmates. Just as it ends, Miss Minchin learns of Captain Crewe’s unfortunate demise due to jungle fever. Furthermore, prior to his death, the previously wealthy captain had lost his entire fortune; a close friend from his schoolboy days had persuaded him to cash in his investments and deposit the proceeds to develop a network of diamond mines. The scheme fails, and the preteen Sara is left an orphan and a pauper, with no other family and nowhere to go. Miss Minchin is left with a sizable unpaid bill for Sara’s school fees and luxuries, including her birthday party. Infuriated and pitiless, she takes away all of Sara’s possessions (except for some old frocks and her doll, Emily), makes her live in a cold and poorly furnished attic, and forces her to earn her keep by working as a servant. She also forces Sara to wear frocks much too short for her, with her thin legs peeking out of the brief skirts.

For the next two years, Sara is abused by Miss Minchin and the other servants, except for Becky. Miss Minchin’s kind younger sister, Amelia, deplores the way that Sara is treated, but is too weak-willed to speak up about it. Sara is starved, worked for long hours, sent out in all kinds of weather, poorly dressed in outgrown and worn-out clothes, and deprived of warmth or a comfortable bed in the attic. Despite her hardships, Sara is consoled by her friends and uses her imagination to cope, pretending she is a prisoner in the Bastille or a princess disguised as a servant. Sara also continues to be kind to everyone, including those who find her annoying or mistreat her. One day, she finds a coin in the street and uses it to buy buns at a bakery; despite being very hungry, she gives most of the buns away to a beggar girl who is hungrier than herself. The bakery shop owner sees this and wants to reward Sara, but she has disappeared, so the shop owner instead gives the beggar girl bread and warm shelter for Sara’s sake.

Meanwhile, Mr. Carrisford and his Indian assistant, Ram Dass, have moved into the house next door to Miss Minchin’s school. Carrisford had been Captain Crewe’s friend and partner in the diamond mines. After the diamond mine venture failed, both Crewe and Carrisford became very ill, and Carrisford in his delirium abandoned his good childhood friend Crewe, who died of his “brain fever.” As it turned out, the diamond mines did not fail, but instead were a great success, making Carrisford extremely rich. Although Carrisford survived, he suffers from several ailments and is guilt-ridden over abandoning his friend. He is determined to find Crewe’s young daughter and heiress, although he does not know where she is and thinks she is attending school in France, as her late mother was a Frenchwoman.

Ram Dass befriends Sara when his pet monkey escapes into Sara’s adjoining attic. After climbing over the roof to Sara’s room to get the monkey, Ram Dass tells Carrisford about Sara’s poor living conditions. As a pleasant distraction, Carrisford and Ram Dass buy warm blankets, comfortable furniture, food, and other gifts, and secretly leave them in Sara’s room when she is asleep or out. Sara’s spirits and health improve due to the gifts she receives from her mysterious benefactor, whose identity she does not know; nor are Ram Dass and Carrisford aware that Sara is Crewe’s lost daughter. When Carrisford anonymously sends Sara a package of new, well-made, and expensive clothing in her proper size, Miss Minchin becomes quite alarmed, thinking Sara might have a wealthy relative secretly looking out for her, and begins to treat Sara better and allows her to attend classes rather than doing menial work.

One night, the monkey again runs away to Sara’s room, and Sara visits Carrisford’s house the next morning to return him. When Sara casually mentions that she was born in India, Carrisford and his solicitor question her and discover that she is Captain Crewe’s daughter, for whom they have been searching for two years. Sara also learns that Carrisford was her father’s childhood friend and her own anonymous benefactor and that the diamond mines have produced great riches, of which she will now own her late father’s share. When Miss Minchin angrily appears to collect Sara, she is informed that Sara will be living with Carrisford from now on and her entire fortune has been restored and increased tenfold. Upon finding this out, Miss Minchin unsuccessfully tries to persuade Sara into returning to her school as a star pupil. She then threatens to keep Sara from ever seeing her school friends again, but Carrisford and his solicitor tell Miss Minchin that Sara will see anyone she wishes to see and that her friends’ parents are not likely to refuse invitations from an heiress of diamond mines. Miss Minchin goes home, where she is surprised when Amelia finally stands up to her. Amelia has a nervous breakdown afterward, but she is on the road to gaining more respect.

Sara invites Becky to live with her and be her personal maid, in much better living conditions than at Miss Minchin’s. Carrisford becomes a friend and father figure to Sara and quickly regains his health. Finally, Sara—accompanied by Becky—pays a visit to the bakery where she bought the buns, making a deal with the owner to cover the bills for bread for any hungry child. They find that the beggar girl (now named Ann), who was saved from starvation by Sara’s selfless act, is now the bakery owner’s assistant, with good food, clothing, shelter, and steady employment.

My Thoughts:

When I read The Secret Garden back in ’12, I kept telling myself that I also needed to read Burnett’s A Little Princess. Well, it only took me 10 years, but tada!

Honestly, this didn’t hold a candle to The Secret Garden. Part of it was that this was a little rich girl, who while not spoiled, was given everything her father could. It didn’t ruin her, but the sympathy factor started much lower than in SG (that’s Secret Garden, NOT Star Gate SG1). Her riches to rags to riches story, while heartwarming, didn’t have the same depth as the kids in SG had, as they had to work at stuff while Sara just has to get through each day of being a servant. The idea of a benevolent, all encompassing “magic” was much more present here and almost made Sara’s riches to rags story feel like it had no impact, because “the magic” would take care of it all.

What I most remember about this story is the 1987 tv mini-series. We watched it in school (it was 6 episodes so we would have watched one part each time) and reading it now brought it all back. There is a scene where there is a pie gone missing that was reserved for the head mistress and the cook blames the scullery maid. The scullery maid knows full well the cook gave it to her boyfriend but nobody believes her. In the movie the headmistress is going on about the missing pie and demanding to know what happened and the cook just lifts her eyebrow and nods over her shoulder at the scullery maid. I didn’t even realize that scene from the movie had stuck in my head until I read it again in the book and bam, I could see it all again crystal clear. It so weird how images like that get stuck in your brain without even realizing it.

To end, if I had to choose between A Little Princess and The Magic Garden, TMG wins hands down. Doesn’t make Princess a bad book, but at most it gets a Participation Trophy, not a Winner’s Trophy.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Twits ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Twits
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 69
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

A hideous, vindictive, spiteful couple known as the Twits live together in a brick house without windows. They continuously play nasty practical jokes on each other out of hatred for one another.

They also keep a family of pet monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps. The Twits, who are retired circus trainers, are trying to create the first upside-down monkey circus, they will always leave the monkeys to stand on their heads for hours on end.

Mr. Twit has this glue call Hugtight in hopes of catching birds for Mrs. Twit to make into a bird pie. The monkeys try to warn the birds before they land on the tree, but the English-speaking birds do not understand the monkeys’ African language.

Once a week the Roly-Poly bird flies to visit the monkeys, to secretly save the birds by acting as an interpreter of languages. On a Tuesday night a group of four boys see the ladder next to this tree and they decided to walk up into it, not thinking or knowing that glue was on it. On the Wednesday morning Mr Twit sees that the boys have scared them away. Out of rage Mr Twit charged at them but they got away. Mr Twit tries several times to catch the birds, and tired of not getting anywhere Mr. Twit decides to go buy guns with his wife to kill them.

The Muggle-Wumps come up with an idea to use Mr. Twit’s glue to attach the Twits’ furniture to their ceiling. The birds came up with an idea to smear glue on the Twits’ heads. Shocked, the Twits rush into their home and see the mess. Mr. Twit suggests that they stand on their heads so that they are ‘the right way up’ The Roly-Poly bird then offers to fly the Muggle-Wumps all the way back to Africa and the Muggle-Wumps escape.

Hours later both Mr and Mrs. Twit are putting all their weight down on the heads and they catch the ‘Dreaded Shrinks’- their bodies compressing ‘downwards.’ Their feet shrink into their legs, their legs shrink into their stomach, their stomach shrink into their heads, and their head shrink into nothing but two pairs of shoes and old clothes. Mr and Mrs Twit are nowhere to be seen.

My Thoughts:

Ahhh, now this was some good stuff! Dahl can write the most horrible characters but unlike modern authors who revel in that disgustingness, he gives those revolting characters just what they deserve! The Twits are B-A-D people and they get everything coming to them.

At only 70’ish pages (and it would be quite a bit shorter without Quentin Blake’s absolutely wonderful illustrations), this is something that an adult can polish off in one sitting. It would also be a good starter book to introduce Dahl to younger readers who aren’t quite ready to sit down for a full hour or two.

Simply put, I like Dahl’s writing. He is funny and quirky and has the ability to write bad characters that are almost caricatures but don’t quite cross that line. He also infuses his childrens books with a child’s sense of justice and fairplay which I love.

Everything I wrote back in 2012 (when I first reviewed this) still stands.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Matilda ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Matilda
Series: ———-
Authors: Roald Dahl
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Pages: 120
Words: 40K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

In a small Buckinghamshire village forty minutes by bus away from Reading and 8 miles from the Bingo club in Aylesbury, Matilda Wormwood is born to Mr and Mrs Wormwood. She immediately shows amazing precocity, learning to speak at age one and to read at age three and a half, perusing all the children’s books in the library by the age of four and three months and moving on to longer classics such as Great Expectations and Jane Eyre. However, her parents (particularly her father) ignore and emotionally abuse her and completely refuse to acknowledge her abilities, and Matilda finds herself forced to pull pranks on them (such as gluing her father’s hat to his head, sticking a parrot in the chimney to simulate a burglar or ghost, and bleaching her father’s hair) to avoid getting frustrated.

At the age of five and a half, Matilda enters school and befriends her teacher Jennifer Honey, who is astonished by her intellectual abilities. Miss Honey tries to move Matilda into a higher class, but the tyrannical headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull, refuses. Miss Honey also tries to talk to Mr and Mrs Wormwood about their daughter’s intelligence, but they ignore her, with the mother contending “brainy-ness” is an undesirable trait in a little girl.

Miss Trunchbull later confronts a girl called Amanda Thripp for wearing pigtails (the headmistress repeatedly displays a dislike of long hair throughout the book) and does a hammer throw with the girl over the playground fence. A boy called Bruce Bogtrotter is later caught by the cook stealing a piece of Miss Trunchbull’s cake; the headmistress makes him attempt to eat an 18 in (45.72 cm) wide cake in front of the assembly, then smashes the platter over his head in rage after he unexpectedly succeeds.

Matilda quickly develops a particularly strong bond with Miss Honey, and watches as Trunchbull terrorises her students with deliberately creative, over-the-top punishments to prevent parents from believing them, such as throwing them in a dark closet dubbed “The Chokey”, which is lined with nails and broken glass. When Matilda’s friend Lavender plays a practical joke on Trunchbull by placing a newt in her jug of water, Matilda uses an unexpected power of telekinesis to tip the glass of water containing the newt onto Trunchbull.

Matilda reveals her new powers to Miss Honey, who confides that after her wealthy father, Dr Magnus Honey, suspiciously died, she was raised by an abusive aunt, revealed to be Miss Trunchbull. Trunchbull appears (among other misdeeds) to be withholding her niece’s inheritance, as Miss Honey has to live in poverty in a derelict farm cottage, and her salary is being paid into Miss Trunchbull’s bank account for the first 10 years of her teaching career (while she is restricted to £1 per week in pocket money). Preparing to avenge Miss Honey, Matilda practises her telekinesis at home. Later, during a sadistic lesson that Miss Trunchbull is teaching, Matilda telekinetically raises a piece of chalk to the blackboard and begins to use it to write, posing as the spirit of “Magnus”. Addressing Miss Trunchbull using her first name, “Magnus” demands that Miss Trunchbull hand over Miss Honey’s house and wages and leave the school, causing Miss Trunchbull to faint.

The next day, the school’s deputy headmaster, Mr Trilby, visits Trunchbull’s house and finds it empty, except for signs of Trunchbull’s hasty exit. She is never seen again, and the house and property are finally and rightfully returned to Miss Honey. Trilby becomes the new headmaster, proving himself to be capable and good-natured, overwhelmingly improving the school’s atmosphere and curriculum, and quickly moving Matilda into the top-form class with the 11-year-olds. Rather to Matilda’s relief, she soon is no longer capable of telekinesis. Miss Honey theorises this is because Matilda is using her brainpower on a more challenging curriculum, leaving less of her brain’s energy free, unlike earlier when she was not in a high year, where she had her brainpower free for psychokinesis.

Matilda continues to visit Miss Honey at her house regularly, returning home one day to find her parents and her older brother Michael hastily packing to leave for Spain. Miss Honey explains this is because the police found out Mr Wormwood has been selling stolen cars. Matilda asks permission to live with Miss Honey, to which her parents rather distractedly agree. Matilda and Miss Honey find their happy ending, as the Wormwoods drive away, never to be seen again.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book to start my Roald Dahl re-read because it is the best selling book of his (at least according to wikipedia). Honestly, I just needed something to choose which book to go with.

Really, the exact same thing struck me this time around as it did back in ’12. Dahl was able to tap into what it feels like to be a child and then tell a story about a childs most basic wish fulfillment, ie, to be in control and to have a stable and loving environment.

What I like about Dahl is that even while describing horrible circumstances, he doesn’t make that the focus and so neither the main character nor the reader are stuck there. He uses a combination of humor and fictional empowerment to get the child into a place where things are better. He also tends to make the villains buffoons and idiots even if they are very powerful.

This was a delightful (a word I suspect I will be using for most of his books) little day read that allowed me to become an all powerful child for a short time and to forget the grind of life.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Grumpy Monkey ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Grumpy Monkey
Author: Suzanne & Max Lang
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Children
Pages: 32
Words: 0.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publishers & Me

Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it—how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy? In the end Jim admits he’s grumpy and chooses to ride it out, as he’ll be happy tomorrow.

My Thoughts:

This was a cute little childrens book about a chimpanzee who was grumpy. Definitely for the pre-readers who like to look at the pictures or those who are just learning to read. I won’t comment on how the content is supposed to teach children, as we don’t have any and I’m not sure that I’d use this to teach anyone anything anyway. (Notice the anyanyany? I feel rather clever).

Mrs B bought me this for my birthday the other month as I have a collection of Grumpy Cat books and this fit in perfectly with that theme. She also got me a stuff monkey. He’s no Mr Zip, but he’ll do as a cousin who I wouldn’t mind handing off to a niece or something so she could slobber all over it and make baby noises and chew on it without me worrying about her destroying a priceless, prized family heirloom. (well, that IS how Mr Zip thinks of himself. Jimbo on the other hand realizes he’s destined for slobber and chewings and has resigned himself to such a fate. Look at those eyes, you can see the stoic resignation even in the picture!)

Rating: 5 out of 5.