At the beginning seems a good place.
One of the earliest books I can remember reading was The Twits by Roald Dahl. This celebrated author of both children’s and perhaps lesser known adult books would have turned 100 this year and his books still populate the shelves of school libraries today. I remember enjoying these funny books as a child but reading them an as an adult I see them in a different light and recognise the mischief and the gruesome humour as well as the underlying theme that good, kind children always triumph. I think part of the appeal is that Dahl seems to respect children’s intelligence and his writing from the point of view of the child allows this to show.
Dahl wrote his first children’s book, The Gremlins in 1943 for Walt Disney Productions while he was still serving in the RAF and continued to write with his last children’s books being published after his death in 1990.
Dahl has had a significant influence over children and childhood through his works. Personally, I not only enjoyed his books but The Witches was also my first cinematic experience in 1990. I think my favourite of all is Matilda. There will be very few of us who could not list at least one of his books amongst our childhood reads.
While I generally agree that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you cannot think of Roald Dahl’s books without the illustrations in that quirky and distinctive style that is uniquely Quentin Blake’s. In an age when book covers are updated to match current trends you will find that Dahl’s book covers are still dominated by Blake’s illustrations such is the timelessness and perfect match between story and illustration.
If you have not already read Dahl as an adult why not try re-reading some of his children’s books or try some of his adult works?
“Those who do not believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl
Feature picture from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, illustration by Quentin Blake (Source: roalddahl.com)