Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Dahl-icious Spread

Today, 13th September is Fantastic Mr Dahl's birthday.

pic courtesy flipkart
Spotty Powder and other Splendiferous Secrets
Compiled and illustrated by Quentin Blake
Publisher: Puffin (Pocket Money Puffin series)
Ages 6+

The book begins with a quote from his book The Minpins: “Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most likely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” This should be the guiding light for all who associate themselves with children’s books. Or any books at all. Or anything that raises one above the mundane. As Dahl’s books certainly do. He was a keen observer of his surroundings, human or otherwise, and each of the twelve chapters begins with his essay on the month or season.

Do you know…

…that there were as many as ten naughty children to feature in his most famous book Charlie and the Chocolate factory? These were to have names like Bertie Upside and Herpes Trout. Or that the Oompa-Loompas were to be called Whipple-Scrumpets?

…that the Roald Dahl-Quentin Blake partnership began in 1976, quite late in Dahl’s career, and that initially Blake was nervous about illustrating for such a famous writer?

…that Dahl kept two notebooks in which he pinned down any stray idea that entered his head, and that almost all his books came from these years later?

…that strange though it may seem to his readers, his English teacher at boarding school had written him off? “This boy is an indolent and illiterate member of the class.” “Vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. Ideas limited.”

…that in the churchyard at Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, big friendly giant footprints lead to Roald Dahl’s grave?

pic courtesy flipkart
D is for Dahl
A gloriumptious A-Z guide to the world of Roald Dahl
Compiled by Wendy Cooling
Illustrations Quentin Blake
Publishers: Puffin books
Ages 8+

It begins with a smudged copy of the Dahl family tree on page 1. The next 149 pages are cram-filled with alphabetically arranged snippets that will warm the heart of even the most reluctant of readers. All things Dahl : personal life, his books, quirks, his literary associates, his working style, his opinions about everything he came across- it is all there, in bite-sizes, and embellished with the zany illustrations of his friend and long-time illustrator, Quentin Blake.

From an essay written by him at school, describing his teacher: “He’s a short man with a face like a fried elderberry, and a moustache which closely resembles the African jungle.” On his teacher's cane: “It wasn’t simply an instrument for beating you. It was a weapon for wounding.” Do you see Miss Agatha Trunchbull from Matilda?

No wonder his teachers were vexed with him!

Choxbox has this to say:

On our recent trip to the UK we went to Great Missenden to pay homage to our favourite author Mr.Dahl. My 7-year old says he is her favourite because he 'makes up funny words, which say what he has to tell exactly how he means it'.

So after an hour-long train ride from London, we reached The Roald Dahl Story Centre and Museum. This was our second trip there, the older child was 7 when we first went there.

The place is divided into two parts.

The first half houses items from Dahl's life, with fun interactive displays. The one that intrigued us most was a report card from one of his teachers which said that the boy had no imagination. The 7-year old found this hilarious. It also has the original writing hut that Dahl used. It has been moved here recently from his house

The second part is the Story Centre. This is a delightful place where you can play a number of games. There are many interactive displays and one gets a sense of what the whole writing gig is about. There are other fun things - like bottling your dreams like the BFG, by speaking into a microphone in a bottle, and then your dream is safe inside - you can replay and hear it back.

If all this excitement makes you hungry, you can head to Cafe Twit, the museum cafe, and gorge upon delicious-sounding things like Snozzcumbers and Whizzbangers. The shop sells many covetable things - we picked up a game that lets you create funny Dahl-ish words, and Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, the only ones he ever used.

We could not get enough of the place, and left only when the museum shut down. We wanted to check out Dahl's home too, but that is for another trip on another day perhaps.

If you ever happen to be around London, do visit this place, especially if you happen to be a Dahl-maniac like us!

Photographs courtesy Choxbox.


Choxbox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Choxbox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Choxbox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Choxbox said...

reposting my comment S:

10 facts straight from my dahl-maniac head:
1. he always wrote on yellow legal paper
2. with a dixon ticanderoga pencil only
3. he had 1 and 2 shipped across from the US
4. he was 6 feet 5 inches tall
5. he broke his nose when he had to crash-land in the middle of the desert during ww2
6. he ate a bar of chocolate every day
7. he kept the silver foil of the chocolate and rolled it into a ball. the ball grew and grew with each day. it still exists in the RD museum.
8. he had war injuries which gave him grief in his last years
9. he only ever wrote from his writing hut
10. he did not actually get along with children.

larukalai said...

Thanks to share such nice information.

Bank Jobs, Sales Jobs, NGO Jobs

the mad momma said...

Love this post as well as Chox's trivia.

Sheela said...

Wonderful tribute, thank you for bringing this to ST!

Related Posts with Thumbnails