Happy fiftieth birthday to Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was originally published in 1964. To celebrate, Penguin has a new paperback edition plus a golden ticket sweepstakes.
It’s hard to imagine a book that was more influential for me than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and all of Roald Dahl’s books for that matter, which were so powerful with their combination of humor, heart, but with a very sinister underpinning that perfectly captures what it’s like to be 10-12 years old. The world at the age is amazing and funny and wondrous, but also a little scary.
Happy birthday to one of the greatest children’s books of all time. While many people’s memories of the book are shaped by the equally indelible film version Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (and to a lesser extent the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton version), some of us remember that Veruca Salt wanted a squirrel and not a golden goose, Mike Teavee was overly stretched to ten feet tall, and a vermicious knid is an alien, not a dangerous creature on Loopaland.
What’s your memory of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
Douglas Bornemann says
Read it when I was around 10, so about 8 years after publication. Recall loving it, but am a little hazy about specific details 😉 Maybe time for a re-read?
Never bring up the Tim Burton film again.
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo says
I read the book for the first time about ten years ago. My childhood memories are of the film, and Gene Wilder's wonderful performance. Listening to the foil crinkle when Charlie slowly unwraps a chocolate bar stays with me. So does the thought of flavored wallpaper.
Charli Armstrong says
I love this book!
Both movies have a special place in my heart.
"Willy Wonka" because of Gene Wilder and the wonderful songs. I still cry when Charlie finds that golden ticket. STILL! And the song "Cheer up Charlie" does me in for obvious reasons.
And "Charlie" because it was truer to the book. I love Tim Burton for that.
I actually read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while I was spending a summer in Japan. I hadn't spoken English in weeks and started feeling really homesick—I saw the book in a bookstore and picked it up with a Japanese cover. It totally saved me that summer!
I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as I did all Roald Dahl's books. But I wonder, looking back, if I enjoyed those books more because of his superb craftmanship than because of the themes those books revealed and discussed. I liked fantasy of all kinds but perhaps it was the darkness of Roald's fantasy -which you mentioned, Nathan – that I didn't warm to. I'm not sure. I still have two of his books in my library – this one and James and the Giant Peach which was my favourite of his works. Strangely, this book didn't translate well to film. At least, I was disappointed in the version I watched a few years ago of James, etc. The movie versions of Charlie were sensational, I thought. Can never forget the original movie with Wilder, but I enjoyed the second one as well with Johnny Depp
Neil Larkins says
Sorry — never liked Dahl. A great wordsmith, but I'm not fond of children's books that speak to the dark side of their fears. Kids are scared enough of life's unknowns as it is without creeping the daylights out of them. I know that if I would have read Charlie when I was ten or twelve I would've had horrible nightmares. I was 30 in 1973 when I started to read James and the Giant Peach to my seven year-old daughter (if had been a gift to her from an uncle) and became so disturbed at the imagery, as did she, that I never finished it. Same as with Charlie in that I never read it and felt the movie was not appropriate for younger kids either. Sorry if I come across as a stuffy, old protective curmudge, but that's me.
G. B. Miller says
Never read the book, but you mentioning it makes me want to search out at my public library.
Never saw the hack remake but did enjoy the original. When I was a kid, the original gave me nightmares (the German kid being sucked up in the tube of chocolate).
Father Nature's Corner
Neurotic Workaholic says
I liked the descriptions of the Oompa Loompas and Charlie's family. I also loved one of Roald Dahl's other books, Matilda. I wore out my copy when I was a kid so I bought another one when I became an adult.
I can count on one hand the number of books where I felt the movie adaptation either matched or exceeded the book. This is one of them. Seeing the conveyor belts of chocolate in the opening credits…oh my gosh, as much as I loved the book there's nothing that tops that visual!
Ken Furie says
I was very young and I have trouble differentiating what I remember from the book vs. the film. But one thing in both that changed the way I looked at the world was the Golden Ticket. Dahl helped me see that four out of five times the wrong people win for the wrong reasons, without having to work for it. But perseverance, and the qualities of hope, and heart, and goodness, can also (eventually) open those locked gates. I look for my Golden Ticket all the time….
I loved that book as a child! I would get so excited when Charlie finally got the golden ticket, even though I'd read the book several times 🙂
This is still my favourite book. I loved the square sweets that looked round. And when I was a kid I spent ages wondering what was behind all those doors they didn't have time to go into – Roald Dahl gave them such tantalising names! As a child there was loads to imagine even when the book was finished – which to my mind is still the hallmark of a perfect children's book. (Oh, and every room should have lickable wallpaper. Genius).
Deniz Bevan says
I remember being really intrigued by all the grandparents having to sleep in one bed. And loving Charlie's voice! It's hard to remember my first impressions, unfortunately, since I've reread it so many times!
This book! The floating soda pop, the lickable wallpaper, and the fact that charlie's family ate cabbage soup exclusively…I even remember what shelf I picked it from at my school's library.