Fifth grade was a good time to be in. Since I wasn’t abnormally tall then, I turned towards my school librarian for help when I couldn’t read the titles of the books placed on the top shelf in the Fiction category. She handed me a battered, old copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. From then on, life has been a whole different adventure.

Charlie with the golden ticket

I understand that I have ‘grown up’ and I read more ‘serious’ fiction now but Roald Dahl is definitely one of my favourite writers till date. Sometimes I think of how it is possible for someone to be so effortlessly imaginative. Dahl’s characters are created in such a vibrant manner that while each might seem as quirky or funny as the other, they’re all different in their own ways.

James with the peach

His stories progress so smoothly even though he has his characters doing the weirdest of things. I mean, how the hell can you think of putting a giraffe and a pelican in one story AND make them “business partners” who wash windows for a living? His narrative is definitely not something you can get used to easily since his characters break into song or verse whenever they want to. Even then, I feel that his writing transcends children’s fiction and grows into something much deeper.

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

For instance, in James and the Giant Peach, James travels in the peach with a group of insects to find the “place of his dreams”. They overcome a lot of obstacles in their way and finally finish their journey successfully. Well, this vaguely reminds me of The Alchemist. It’s surprising how we never think of Dahl’s stories in this way. Matilda with her “special power” reminds me a little of Harry Potter. Even George’s ability to make a potion so unique and powerful makes me think of potions with Professor Snape. Needless to say, Dahl has clearly been an eminent predecessor to many writers such as J.K. Rowling.

George’s Marvellous Medicine

Interestingly, even though Dahl’s books are meant for children, the protagonists in his stories are usually shown to be more sensible than the various adults (read nitwits) that surround them. From Charlie to Matilda to James and to the many others, all the main characters are carved in a rather mature manner. This could only mean that Dahl surely wrote for children but was subtly treating them as adults all the while.

Matilda and Miss Honey

Well, as Mr. Dahl crosses 95 years on this date, I say we take a trip back to the time when there was hardly anything else to care about than rivers made of chocolate. As of now, here’s to the man who had it in him to create magic with his pen – the world’s very own Willy Wonka!

  • Rajdip

    Beautiful. :)
    Though its incomplete without mentioning Quentin Blake. He made the characters emerge from mere words into some spectacular visuals.

    • Lipi Meh

      I agree! 

  • Apoorva G

    There is something about Roald Dahl that instantly brings some warmth to your heart and a smile to your face.

  • Anurag

    Beautifully written. The lucidity of your thought is highly commendable. :)
    As we have discussed before (read decided upon), I am gonna do the cover photographs for the books you are going to write! ^_^