The U.K. Independent observes, in a story about Roald Dahl’s correspondence with the real-life Willy Wonka, that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turns 40 this year. To mark the occasion, Puffin has published a special edition of Dahl’s novel and launched a competition that recalls:
the hunt for golden tickets that give the children in the book entrance to the chocolate factory. Five golden tickets have been hidden in Roald Dahl books in Waterstone’s bookshops and the children who find them will win a special Roald Dahl Day in October.
An unrelated warning on Dahl: he may be your favorite niece’s favorite author, but don’t just pick up any old collection of his bedtime stories and hand it over as a birthday gift.
Also, thank Christ for Lizzie Skurnick’s primer on his adult fiction.
When my stepdaughter, A., was visiting last month, I gave her a copy of The Roald Dahl Omnibus: Perfect Bedtime Stories for Sleepless Nights. A’s always been a good reader, and Dahl is one of her favorites, but that night I was a little disconcerted at the vehemence with which she lobbied to be allowed to stay up and finish reading “the story about the wine.”
As I asked a few idle questions about the story and got some evasive answers, Lizzie’s description of one adult tale — in which a mother maneuvers “to have her leprous daughter sleep with a visiting traveler” — sprang to mind. I asked A. if I could have a closer look at the book.
Sure enough, there were a bunch of selections from Lizzie’s favorite collection, Switch, Bitch –including “The Great Switcheroo,” in which a man and his neighbor conspire to have sex with each other’s wives without telling the women.
Highly entertaining stuff — but probably not the best choice for your ten-year-old. I can tell you, now from personal experience, there are few things worse than explaining to a doe-eyed, nightgown-clad girl that you made a mistake and she can’t read the stories, after all.