Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Roald Dahl: a 10 Every Time

Reading together - A Time-honored comfort.

"Grandma, I ran out of things to do." I was wiping the counter just then, but momentarily paused. 

"What kinds of things did you run out of?" I enquired.

"Oh, everything. We built things out of Sands Alive, and then swam in the pool, and then we ate, and then drew pictures. There isn't anything left."

I pondered this, and cast my memory back to when I or my children felt a moment of tedium when simply nothing fell to hand. I knew what his mother would like for him to do, and this made my decision. "Ok, come with me."

"But where are we going?" he hesitated. 

"I'll show you." And we headed down the hall toward our room of books. There was a quiet murmuring from behind me about having 'already looked at all those books' - but I had something special in mind. Now, where were those particular volumes? It had been a while since reading them but I knew they lurked here, somewhere.

And then, there it was - Danny, the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl. A favorite! I drew it out, and sat down. "Here we are, my darling - 'Danny, the Champion of the World'. Your mother and Uncle loved this one!"

He followed me, and sat, still just a tad bit uncertain. But there was a picture of a blond boy his age on the front, which alerted him. And as I read the first sentence, I felt the inevitable suddenly happening before my eyes. He was instantly hooked, right then and there! Thoroughly drawn in, and ready for as much as I could read to him. He could have read it to himself but we were soon lost in the story together, and almost nothing could have interrupted us. I was just as excited as he was. Roald Dahl is like that.

We covered three chapters, and then it was time for dinner. Reluctantly we closed the book, excited about that next chapter. We could hardly wait.
What is it about Dahl, and others such as Dick King-Smith ('Harry's Mad')? Is it the humor? The slightly mischievous characters they create? The hilarious way hideous grownups get what is coming to them? Probably all of the above. Any one who has read them will be nodding their heads right about now. There is nothing like it.

Perhaps it is the delightful difference between British humour and American (humor). It is significant. And nothing has alerted me to its nuances like the discovery of books like Fantastic Mr. Fox (another Dahl) and Dick King-Smith's The Sheep-Pig (better known as 'Babe', the movie). Ah, the countless hours of entertainment they have brought us! 

It's lovely to indulge in the time-honored comfort of reading aloud to a keenly interested young person. His mother and dad had laid the foundation for this long ago, and it was easy as pie to continue it today. And especially through the fabulous, the astonishing, the redoubtable Mr. Roald Dahl.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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