A couple of years ago, my husband got me a colorful box set of sixteen of Roald Dahl's most loved children's books and thus began my journey of discovering the delight of Roald Dahl as a woman in my 30s. Children's lit is one of my favorite genres, and Matilda and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory were movies I watched over and over as a kid so I was excited to finally read the original words from one of the world's favorite authors for children.
And thus far, I have not been disappointed. I started this venture reading The Twits and The Witches. Last year, I naturally selected Matilda and followed it with The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. This year, it was a no-brainer to read the Charlie books so today we'll be talking all about Charlie Bucket and Wonka's wonderful chocolate factory.
We first meet Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was originally published in 1964. Charlie and his poor parents and both sets of his ancient grandparents are struggling to stay warm and fed in their tiny shack of a house when Willy Wonka announces that he is inviting five children to come see his amazing chocolate factory which no one has been inside of for years. Charlie manages to win the fifth and final Golden Ticket and the next day, he and Grandpa Joe are on the adventure of their lives touring Willy Wonka's incredible factory.
This was such a fun book, and I was tremendously pleased that the movie I grew up loving seemed to follow it so well. The horrid children who won the other four Golden Tickets were portrayed perfectly on screen. I haven't seen the newer remake starring Johnny Depp. Is it worth it?
We pick right back up with Charlie Bucket in the 1972 sequel: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. To be honest, I had always assumed that they tried to squeeze this narrative onto the end of the movie I grew up watching because their ride in the Great Glass Elevator didn't quite seem to fit with the rest of the movie to me. But in fact, at the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they are riding in the Great Glass Elevator, and in this super-fun sequel, we pick right back up in that same elevator. Charlie, his parents, and both sets of grandparents soon find themselves on a zany adventure in space when the elevator shoots into orbit. They manage to make it back to the chocolate factory only to accidentally minus Grandma Georgina when she takes too much of Wonka-Vite, a formula Willy Wonka's been perfecting for years to make people younger.
I loved this follow-up to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, maybe even more than the first book. I think I liked it so much because I had no idea what to expect and the outrageous situations this little band of people found themselves in were so imaginative and wild and the solutions were clever. The Witches is still holding as my favorite Dahl book so far, but Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is a very close second.
Next year, I'm pretty set on reading James and the Giant Peach and The BFG, but if you'd like to recommend a different favorite, I'm all ears!