Image: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin
Well, one thing is for sure. If you haven’t read any of Roald Dahl's stories, then you are in for the most marvellous, the most FANTASTIC treat of your life! Let’s do a very small quiz:
Do you like chocolate?
Do you like stories that are packed with magic, mischief and mayhem?
Do you like giants and witches and heroes and snozzcumbers and monkeys and rainbow lollies and giant chocolate cakes and even more giant peaches?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then this beginner’s guide to Roald Dahl is for you. We’re here to help you decide which one you’d like to read first – and once you’ve read one, you’ll want to read them all. Here is a brief introduction to ten of Roald Dahl’s best books. Psst… it’s in no particular order; so just see which one you like the most and get stuck in...
(1991) Billy and the Minpins
‘Billy’s mum says he must never go out through the garden gate and explore the dark forest beyond. So, one day, that’s EXACTLY what he does.’
All the things Billy was allowed to do were boring. All the things he was not allowed to do were exciting. Billy is certainly
not allowed in the forest behind his house, but one day, that’s where he goes. There he meets the amazing Minpins; tiny people who live inside the hollow trees. But the Minpins are in danger from the terrible, galloping Gruncher. Can Billy help to save them – or will he be gobbled up too? Billy and the Minpins is the last children’s book Roald Dahl wrote. Now, for the first time ever, you can enjoy this heroic adventure brought to life with illustrations by Quentin Blake – and Billy is looking every bit as mischievous as Matilda, Charlie, and the rest.
(1982) The BFG
‘Human beans is not really believing in giants, is they? Human beans is not thinking we exist.’
One night, while the world is sleeping, Sophie is snatched from her bed by a GIANT! Luckily, he’s the Big Friendly Giant, who only eats snozzcumbers and glugs frobscottle. But in Giant Country, where the BFG is from, all the giants are big beastly brutes who eat… CHILDREN! Can Sophie and the BFG – with help from Her Majester the Queen of England – stop the giants? We hope so. Or the next child a giant guzzles could be… YOU!
‘We saw Miss Trunchbull grab a girl by the pigtails and throw her over the playground fence!’
Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary little girl with a magical mind. But her parents are horrible and her headmistress, the dreaded Miss Trunchbull, is a great big bully. Matilda has had enough of these rotten grown-ups, so one day she decides to teach them a lesson they’ll
(1981) George’s Marvellous Medicine
‘The rule would be this: whatever he saw, if it was runny or powdery or gooey, it went in.’
George Kranky’s Grandma is a grizzly old grouch with a small puckered-up mouth like a dog’s bottom. She’s nothing but nasty to George, so one day, whilst wondering what sort of mischief he might get into, he decides to teach her a lesson. And once Grandma has finished drinking George’s marvellous medicine, she’ll really have something to grumble about.
(1979) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
‘I, Willy Wonka, have decided to allow five children to visit my factory this year. These lucky five will be allowed to see all the secrets and magic.’
Charlie Bucket LOVES chocolate, and when the wondrous inventor Mr Willy Wonka opens the gates of his factory to five golden ticket winners, lucky Charlie is one of them. Alongside Augustus Gloop (greedy), Veruca Salt (spoiled), Violet Beauregarde (gum-chewer) and Mike Teavee (telly addict), Charlie discovers some of Wonka’s most extraordinary secrets…
(1983) The Witches
‘One child a week is fifty-two a year. Squish them and squiggle them and make them disappear.’
Don’t be alarmed, but did you know that witches are EVERYWHERE? Real witches dress in ordinary clothes and look like ordinary women, but there is nothing ordinary about them. They are always plotting terrible things – and they hate children. The most terrifying witch of all is the Grand High Witch, who wants to get rid of EVERY single child. Including you! Only one boy and his grandmother can stop her – but will they succeed in time?
(1961) James and the Giant Peach
‘Bigger and bigger grew the peach. Bigger and bigger and bigger.’
Poor James Henry Trotter lives with his two awful aunts, the ghastly Aunt Sponge and the screeching Aunt Spiker. He’s very lonely – until one day something
peculiar happens. A peach at the end of the garden starts to grow and grow and GROW – and inside that peach are seven very unusual insects, all waiting to take James on the most magical adventure…
(1980) The Twits
‘To pay Mrs Twit back for the worms in his spaghetti, Mr Twit thought up a really clever nasty trick.’
Mr and Mrs Twit are the nastiest couple you could ever hope not to meet. They play horrible tricks on each other and, worse than that, they keep the Muggle-Wump monkeys locked up in their garden. But not for much longer, because the monkeys are planning to trick those terrible Twits, once and for all…
(1970) Fantastic Mr Fox
‘Did you hear that, Mr Fox! It’s not over yet! We’re not going home till we’ve strung you up dead as a dingbat!’
Those horrible farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean – one short, one fat, one lean – are fed up with clever Mr Fox helping himself to their food. They’ve hatched a plan to shoot Mr Fox BANG-BANG-BANG dead – he’ll never escape! But little do they know that Mr Fox has a fantastic plan of his own.
(1990) Esio Trot
‘I do actually know how to make tortoises grow faster, if that’s really what you want.’
Mr Hoppy loves Mrs Silver. Mrs Silver loves her tortoise, Alfie. Oh, if only Mr Hoppy could perform some great feat that would make him a hero in her eyes! With the help of a magic spell, some cabbage leaves and one hundred and forty tortoises, can shy Mr Hoppy win Mrs Silver’s heart?