Happy 90th Birthday to the Best Children’s Writer

If there’s anyone I wish I could meet, it would be him. I absolutely adore his wonderful children stories and macabre and bawdy adult ones. My favourite books by him are Danny, Champion of the World and My Uncle Oswald.

roald dahl

Britain celebrates first Roald Dahl Day

LONDON (AP) — Britain celebrated its first Roald Dahl Day on Wednesday to mark the 90th birthday of the much-loved author of such children’s classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,Matilda and James and the Giant Peach.

Fans across Britain were encouraged to wear yellow, Dahl’s favorite color, speak in Dahl’s invented language “gobblefunk,” trade books and make up Oompa Loompa dances — a tribute to characters from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Children and parents across Britain participated with parties and book readings this week to celebrate the writer, who died in 1990. New book club openings, films and tea parties also marked the occasion.

A south England theme park is giving free admission to the first 500 people who are dressed all in yellow, on Saturday

A special train ferried fans from London to Great Missenden, 35 miles west of the city, where Dahl lived for more than 30 years.

Guides from the Roald Dahl Museum conducted tours of the town, stopping to read passages from stories and pointed out landmarks that inspired scenes from Dahl’s books, including the library where Matilda reads and Sophie’s orphanage from the BFG, or The Big Friendly Giant.

“I think his stories are still very much contemporary and they haven’t aged at all,” said Isabelle Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the museum. “The enthusiasm of children and adults testifies he is still very much alive in people’s imaginations.”

Dahl’s books, many of them darkly comic and featuring villainous adult enemies of the child characters, have sold over 100 million copies.

He also wrote adult books such as My Uncle Oswald, and short stories, such as Tales of the Unexpected, which touched on the dark side of human nature. Dahl wrote the screenplays for the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice and the family film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Andrea Shavick, a children’s book writer and the author of a biography on Dahl, said the author had little success initially at getting his books published. She said the humor of the stories — which bordered on the politically incorrect — worked against him.

Eventually, though, the success of his works helped throw open children’s literature to riskier, darker works.

“The children’s publishing industry is afraid of anything that’s scary or controversial, and every so often there’s a book that breaks the mold,” Shavick said.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Roald Dahl’s Day 13 September 2007 « The Literary Pursuit

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