Un-squashable Girls

Two of the greatest heroines in children’s literature were created by Roald Dahl. Their names, Sophie and Matilda.

Up until the 1980’s Roald Dahl’s lead characters were always male. Mostly young boys who, against the odds conquer the adult world, or simply end up in a Giant Peach across the Atlantic and who can forget the Fantastic Mr Fox.  Yet in the 80’s two heroines emerge, the first is Sophie.

BFG sophie

The BFG introduces us to Sophie, an orphan who is having trouble sleeping. Sophie’s name came about as a dedication to his granddaughter (who in later life became a model, married jazz pianist Jamie Cullum, had two children and has also dipped her ink into the world of writing).

Sophie eventually becomes friends with a giant The BFG – Big, Friendly, Giant, who unlike his peers does not eat humans. Sophie and The BFG team up and together trick the giant bullies, after convincing the Queen of England to help them.

Matilda however has her book named after her and tells the tale of a young girl who does not quite fit into her life. Matilda loves books and befriends her teacher Miss Honey. Miss Honey recognises Matilda’s abilities and tries to get her moved up to a higher class. Miss Honey however is thwarted by Head Teacher, Miss Trunchbull. Miss Trunchbull is a bully and enjoys inventing cruel over the top punishments for her students. It also transpires that she is Miss Honey’s Aunt and is withholding her inheritance from her.

Matilda

Both Sophie and Matilda have one thing in common under the surface both a simmering with a desire for revenge. Sophie is pitted against a hoard of child eating giants and Matilda against the tyrannical, Miss Trunchbull. Both succeed in overcoming these obstacles through their wily intelligence.

Miss Trunchbull sums it up by stating: “a bad girl is a far more dangerous creature than a bad boy. What’s more, they’re much harder to squash. Squashing a bad girl is like trying to squash a bluebottle. You bang down on it and the darn thing isn’t there.”

Since then many un-squashable girls both little and big, have taken to heart the stories of Sophie and Matilda. I once read that Matilda made being a nerd cool. In his stories Dahl always championed the under-dog and saw that bullies never prospered.

These characters/books remind us, just as they did for Matilda : That we are not alone.

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Fantastic Mr Fox #BookReview

F A N T A S T I C   M R   F O X

ROALD DAHL

fantastic mr fox

My Rating : 5/5

My Review :

This was my first read ever of Fantastic Mr Fox and to be honest I don’t think I would be in a rush to read it again. While the story contains a certain amount of charm and is a classic Dahl story it just didn’t interest me that much.

Boggis, Bunce and Bean are three of the meanest farmers the world has ever seen however they have one thing that binds them altogether and that is their hatred for Mr Fox. Mr Fox however is determined not to be caught by this measly trio so he hatches a plan to feed not only himself and his family but other animals who have been affected by the trio’s actions.

Roald Dahl’s characters whether good or bad are always captivating. The three farmers all equally mean but also unique in their meanest to the next was interesting. I enjoyed it when they would try and plot together.

Even though I gave the book a rating of 5/5 mainly due to the characterisation of the farmers and the coming together of the plot at the end, this book really did nothing for me. The problem is that Mr Fox is not as fantastic as originally promised in the title. Maybe I was just too old for a first reading. If I had read it as a child I may have had a different opinion.

I Bet You Think You Know This Story…

R E V O L T I N G   R H Y M E S

“I bet you think you know this story? You don’t the real one is much more gory. The phoney one, the one you know was cooked up years and years ago. Made to sound or soft and sappy, just to keep the children happy.”

Revolting-Rhymes-book

That is the introduction to Roald Dahl’s version of Cinderella, as found in Revolting Rhymes. Or, at least that is how I remember it! I was about 10 years old when our class for an assembly performed this version of Cinderella and above is part of what I had to read out to the school – without it being written down or a prompt. It certainly stuck with me due to being first up I had to make sure I was right.

As much as I love the book with its various re-tellings of the fairy tales it contains. I was realy impressed with an animated version of the book shown on the BBC in December 2016.

Revolting-Rhymes-3

The animation entwines all the tales that are within the book together and it is seamless in its execution.    The animation is based on Quentin’s Blakes original illustrations.  It also has some excellent vocal talents including Dominic West, David Walliams, Rob Brydon and Tamsin Greig.

The feature was shown in two parts with the main focus of the story being around Red Riding Hood and the wolf. The wolf in fact is relaying the stories to whoever will listen why he is in fact carrying out a plan of his own.

I really enjoyed this adaptation and feel as though it was a delightful retelling of some of my favourite tales.

Unexpected Tales

I spent the best part of a year watching The Tales of the Unexpected. They are shown on the Sky Arts channel so I stuck it on series link and watched them through. I did not of course watch them everyday, just when I had some spare time.

When I mention The Tales of the Unexpected to people the first thing people will mention is the titles and nearly all will do their own impression of them. As they are a little hard to explain for those who have never seen them. Here they are below.

Once we get past the hand waving and wailing they will then go onto explain the episode that has stuck with them. Usually this episode is one that has disturbed them in someway. This I can relate too because the three episodes that have stayed within my memory are all ones that have disturbed in some way.

Tales of the Unexpected were first aired in 1979. Initially the episodes were introduced by Roald Dahl.  The first two seasons are mainly based on Roald Dahl’s stories and really are the best seasons out of the 9 which aired. The later seasons are also mainly set in the USA. They have a tendency to focus around murders and the majority of the time were not unexpected but fairly predictable.

Below are two episodes I enjoyed – if I can use that word. I am staying clear of the ones that disturbed me. However, I recommend you checking out at least the first two seasons of this series. All the ones I have chosen are written by Dahl.

Lamb to the Slaughter

Mary Marney, a devoted and pregnant housewife, is preparing dinner when her husband Patrick returns home from his job as a police detective.  He tells her that he is leaving her.  Moving almost on autopilot, Mary fetches a leg of lamb from the deep-freezer in the cellar to cook for their dinner.  Patrick says he doesn’t want dinner, as he is going out.  In a trance-like panic, she hits him on the head and kills him.  The police conclude that Patrick was killed with a large blunt object, but are baffled when the murder weapon cannot be found.  As they were all friends of Patrick, Mary begs them to stay and eat the lamb, which she has been roasting, while they discuss the case. (from Wilkepedia)

Genesis and Catastrophe 

n 1889, after having lost three children, an Austrian woman is concerned that her newborn baby boy is ill.  The doctor helps and urges the woman’s husband to be positive.  They decide to name the boy Adolphus.

I would also recommend reading the book of short stories this book is based on.

Giants of Illustrations

During the month of May I paid a visit to my local Museum and Art Gallery. I like to go at least once a year however there was a reason for this visit. There was a mini exhibition of Quentin Blake illustrations for Roald Dahl’s story The BFG.

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Photo of the exhibition description – it is dark because I couldn’t put the flash on, obviously. 

There was a notice on the wall asking visitors not to take any photo’s of the illustrations so I just took a photo of the notice for the exhibition.

As much as I enjoy gazing at the illustrations in the books, nothing can really compare to actually viewing the original illustrations. I love actually seeing the marks on the paper made by the artist.

BFG danny COTH
The BFG illustration from Danny the Champion of the World

The exhibition showed the evolution of Quentin Blake’s drawings of The BFG and I was thrilled to see that included in the show was the illustration from Danny the Champion of the World. In Danny the Champion of the world is the first mention of The BFG. Danny’s dad uses it as a bedtime story for his son.

There are a few exhibitions of Blake’s work on at the moment – The Herbert Gallery, Coventry and Walsall New Art Gallery both have exhibitions of Blake’s work currently on show. I was hoping to get to one of them during this month however I don’t think it is going to be possible but I will try and if I make it I will let you know.

Danny the Champion of the World #BookReview

D A N N Y

T H E   C H A M P I O N

O F   T H E   W O R L D

Roald Dahl 

DCOTHC

My Rating : 5/5

My Review : 

I have a vague memory of reading this book when I was a child however reading it as an adult especially a parent was a different experience.

Danny’s mother died when he was a baby leaving him in the sole care of his father. Danny thinks his father is most wonderful person in the world. They live together in a small caravan behind a petrol station. One night Danny wakes to discover his father missing. Unsure what to do Danny sits and waits eventually his father comes back home to the caravan. Danny eventually discovers that his father has been out poaching pheasants which also appears to be a family occupation. Together they decide to try and pull off the ultimate pheasant poaching plan to get revenge on the horrible Mr Hazell.

This story has a different feel to other Roald Dahl stories. It is not as whimsical as classic’s such as James and the Giant peach or Charlie and the Chocolate factory for example and overall has a more contemporary feel. One of the things I enjoyed most about this tale is the fact Danny’s father would tell Danny stories. One of the stories he told was about The BFG. When I was researching Dahl I noted that Danny the Champion of the World was published about 7 years before The BFG. Other Dahl books are also referenced in this book which is a nice touch. It ties the Dahl World together.

Some people maybe put off by the fact that it centres around poaching pheasants, stealing with a touch of revenge, however it is an interesting and entertaining read.

I did enjoy this story. I love the relationship between Danny and his father. Danny’s father encompasses everything that you feel a father should be. He shows an interest in Danny, he is protective yet he is still willing for Danny to have his own adventures.

Overall it is wonderful read and one I would recommend for any Dahl fan.

 

Dahl World

Earlier this year I decided to do a Google search entitled “Roald Dahl Themed Blog Posts”. There were two reasons for this –

  1. I did not really want to do a whole month of book reviews – as much as I enjoy them I like my blog to be a bit more diverse,
  2. I am a very nosy person and love visiting new blogs.

It is surprising how many people have been inspired by this wonderful author.  Due to this I thought I would list a few of my favourite posts that I found.

Rainy Day Mum – Minpin themed flower pots. This is a great activity for children to do in the summer.

roald-dahl-minpin-quotation

Science Sparks – This is a great website if you are looking for fun little science activities to entertain children.

telegram-wedding-invitation

Roald Dahl Themed Wedding – Not something I have ever considered for a wedding but some of the photo’s are beautiful.  I really like this wedding invitation idea.

BFG Dream Jars –  These are so pretty.

So these are four of my favourite Blog Posts inspired by Roald Dahl. Of course, there are many more of Pinterest.