Sunday, December 18

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie Bucket lives in poverty with his parents and his grandparents. They never have enough to eat and they only have the one bed, which all the grandparents share - and haven't left for 20 years!

Every day, Charlie passes the great Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. No one has seen Mr Wonka for years and no one ever goes inside the factory...until now.

Hidden inside five Wonka chocolate bars...is a golden ticket. Each finder of a ticket will be able to visit Wonka's factory and receive a life-time's supply of chocolate.

Against all odds, Charlie finds himself in possession of a golden ticket - but the excitement is yet to start when he visits Wonka's chocolate factory!

What is in store for Charlie and the other four children within its gates?

Everyone dreams of such quantities of chocolate - or something akin that they enjoy - but Dahl shows the story of a poverty stricken family where dreams are at their strongest. Charlie is a character you can't help but root for. He has been through so much but it is his endurance and heart in the face of it all that is what makes him such a remarkable figure in children's literature.

I listened to the audio book, read by Eric Idle. Idle is a magnificent narrator. Coupled with Dahl's wonderful way with words, each chapter was charming and a pleasure to listen to. The fantastical extremes of the chocolate factory and the imagination which goes into it and in fact seems to power it, is something that both children and adults can marvel at and enjoy.

It's not something that a child would necessarily notice - and it never occurred to me before - but Willy Wonka is a human trafficker. He has illegally transported all the Oompa Loompas into the country to work for him. Taking advantage of their dire living situation, he convinced them to all work for him...in exchange for chocolate.

While it might seem fanciful to spend all your days in a chocolate factory, the Oompa Loompas never leave the factory, are summoned when Wonka clicks his fingers and are used as test subjects for his experimental products. It's a wonder that Wonka's factory was left in peace all those years and not shut down!

The four other children who win golden tickets all have their vices. I thought it was very interesting to contemplate who - whether in childhood or as an adult - would be most like which child in the story. It would be a rare event to find someone most able to relate to Charlie. At least, I can't say in all honesty that I would be most like him than the other children.

I have always been puzzled by the convenience that it was five children that found the tickets, where it could have been five adults but I suppose that is part of the magic of it all. There are so many fantastic things in the world of Willy Wonka that nothing seems to extraordinary.

One of my favourite parts of the book was Dahl's poem about television. I think all book lovers would understand my enamourment. It was wonderful listening to Idle read it but it is also the sort of vibrant piece that would be excellent for an actor to perform.

I loved listening to this book on audio and look forward to the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. It is also narrated by Eric Idle and I have no clue what happens to Charlie in his next adventure. Here's to finding out!

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Puffin and is used solely as an aide to the review.

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