Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryTitle:  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Author:  Roald Dahl

Paperback:  176 pages

Published:  1964

ISBN:  0140328696

acquired:  I bought it at our St. Vincent DePaul thrift store.

Challenges:  Welsh Reading Challenge

“I stood there shouting, ‘Burp, you silly ass, burp, or you’ll never come down again!” -Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, page 112

For me, this was either my second or third reading of Roald Dahl‘s children’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I remember reading it a few years ago with the kids, but I’m not sure if I read it by myself as a kid.  But whatever the number of reads, it is easy to say this book is fantastic fun… especially to read aloud with a child.  As Mags and I read it, we took breaks at the departure of each child to watch the particular scene from the Tim Burton’s movie adaptation (and occasionally from the Gene Wilder version, as well). 

Most people know the basic premise of the story:  Charlie Bucket and his family are very poor, barely having enough money for food, let alone candy.  Little Charlie gets one chocolate bar a year for his birthday, which is falls a few days after Willy Wonka, greatest candy-maker EVER, announces that he has placed a golden ticket in just FIVE of his candies, and these tickets will grant the winning child and up to two parents entry into his mysterious and fantastic factory, as well as a lifetime supply of chocolate.  Charlie and Grandpa Joe hold out hope that they have just as much chance to get a ticket as anyone, and when the first four tickets are found by beastly, spoiled, selfish children, they almost give up.  But then Charlie spots a dollar bill half buried in the snow, and rushes to buy a couple of Wonka’s Whipple Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights, saving the rest of the money for his family, and finds the ticket in the second bar. 

Roald Dahl creates a world in which children aren’t safe, which I think appeals to kids because they DON’T feel safe.  In their particular position, they’re subject to the whims and fancies of the adults around them and have very little control over their lives.  Readers, particularly young readers, see these over-indulged children who get everything they want which, at first blush, is something most kids would love.  However, as the book progresses, we watch as each child suffers an accident which their own self-centeredness is a direct cause.  Violet rips the meal-in-a-gum from the drawer and chews it, ignoring Wonka’s warnings, and ends up a giant blueberry.  Veruca Salt refuses to take NO for an answer, in fact is inflamed by being told she can’t have one of Wonka’s squirrels, and goes in the nut room to claim one anyone, ending up tossed into the garbage chute by leader of the squirrels who judges her to be a “bad nut”.  In the end it is the considerate and well-behaved Charlie who is rewarded.  Even when Dahl shows the children leaving the factory in one piece, they are still not escaping unscathed, but instead will retain some scarring for the rest of their lives.  Violet, for instance, is still purple, while Mike Teavee has been over-stretched and is now very tall and thin, about whom Wonka makes an almost-callous remark that every basketball team in the country will want him.  I think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory could fit in the fable category, as it is a cautionary tale with a lesson.

The best part of this book, in my opinion, was cuddling up with Maggie, who is ten and won’t let me do this much longer.  She’s in her last semester of Elementary school and will, no doubt, be “too cool” to lay in bed, snuggling and being read to by her mom.  Part of the book was also read at the library, which drew attention from a few people, which gave Mags the chance to tell them about the book.  I will always have warm memories of this book, which was even good enough to draw my 15-year-old into the room for her favorite part, which is the quote I included.  For all these things, and for making me fee like a kid again while reading it, I give Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl 5 out of 5 candy stars 🙂

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This book is my first book read for The Welsh Reading Challenge 2010.  Roald Dahl was born in Llandaff, Wales, which is part of the Cardiff cosmopolitan area.  Roald Dahl day is September 13th, his birthday, every year. Check out The Official Roald Dahl website where you can learn more about the author, his books and even play games.  Mags and I did the Wonkanator, a math game, and the “find the differences” game for a while this morning before she left for school, taking the book with her.

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Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers – Factoid #5

Alright… no bugs, parasites or cannibalism today… Today’s factoid is something straight out of science fiction.

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Can a head live without a body?

In 1988, the U.S. government granted a patent for a device that would keep a severed head alive after being surgically removed from the body. The device has never been used, so it is uncertain how effective it would be. However, the creator of the device has been contacted by a number of people who want to know how soon the operation will be available and how much it will cost. Some of these people are dying or paralyzed, and many of them say that they would welcome the operation, if it meant that their minds would remain clear and they could still think, see, read, remember, talk, and listen.

The proposed procedure would involve attaching the decapitated head to a device essentially consisting of a series of plastic tubes. These tubes would be connected to the bottom of the head and neck and would provide oxygen and fluids, as well as maintaining blood circulation, to keep the head alive.

In 1973, an American brain surgeon called Dr. Robert White carried out the world’s first head transplant, using two monkeys. He decapitated both animals and successfully managed to stitch the head of one monkey onto the body of the other. The “hybrid” monkey regained consciousness, opened its eyes, and tried to bite a surgeon who put a finger in its mouth. It also ate, and it could follow people around the room with its eyes. However, the monkey was paralyzed from the neck down because its spinal cord had been severed, and it was impossible for the surgeons to reconnect the numerous nerves necessary for it to regain any bodily movement. The monkey survived for about seven days after the transplant.

White claimed that this surgery could benefit parapalegics, who may die as a result of the long-term medical complications that often accompany extensice paralysis. He believed that if these people were to receive new bodies, donated by patiens who were brain dead but otherwise physically healthy, it would give them a new chance of life, even though they would remain parapalegic.

There are some really strange video out there that demonstrate the mind-bending ability the brain has to survive. One video shows a dog’s head revived and responding to stimulus. The monkey vid’s on out there, as well, but the one I saw on YouTube had one of those “scream scenes” in it so be careful.

When I read this segment, my mind immediately went to Sarah Jessica Parker’s head on the body of her character’s pet chihauhau in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (great movie if you haven’t seen it)

This post is part of the Boogers and Book Bucks Giveaway. Don’t forget to enter at the original post for your official entry. Comments here count as a bonus entry 😀