Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird.
No–It’s a plane!
It’s a…skydiving Oompa-Loompa?
Parachuting Oompa-Loompas are part of the festivities to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl Day on Saturday, the 13th of September, 2014. The author’s birthday is celebrated annually in libraries and schools around the world.
The Oompa-Loompas will take to the skies over Cambridgeshire, England in a bid to raise funds for the Roald Dahl Museum. If free-falling from ten thousand feet isn’t your bar of chocolate, take a nice, safe, earthbound visit to www.roalddahl.com. What a wonderful children’s literature centre and resource!
Vanity Fair magazine will mark the anniversary of the children’s classic by presenting a lost chapter from an early draft of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Copies hit the newsstands on the 11th and 12th of September.
As for Spilling Ink, we’re commemorating the man and the book with a few fun factoids!
Ten Things You May Not Know About Roald Dahl
- Ever wondered about the name? Not Ronald but Roald (pronounced RO-ald). It’s a Nordic name meaning “mighty”…
- …which suits a 6-foot-6 man born to Norwegian parents.
- Speaking of ancestry, he spoke Norwegian and Swahili in addition to English.
- His linguistic prowess may have contributed to his creativity with language. One researcher claims he coined over 250 original words, most of which turned up in his children’s book The BFG.
- The character Sophie in The BFG was named after Dahl’s granddaughter, a writer and former fashion model.
- He maintained a firm writing routine, doing most of his work in a garden hut. He sat in a battered armchair with a board for a desk (see photo below). He preferred to work in HB pencil on yellow paper.
- He kept a beat-up red exercise book especially for ideas. I remember reading years ago that he thought of these entries as “seeds” of stories.
- Remember the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? He wrote the screenplay. Also to his credit is the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
- In its original conception, James and the Giant Peach involved a giant cherry.
- He once received a letter from a real-life Willy Wonka, an ordinary postman not an eccentric chocolate maker.
There you have it: A legendary children’s writer remembered for a timeless classic.
Not everyone loved Roald Dahl’s books. Some contemporaneous critics found his works distasteful, racist, and OTT (Don’t shout me down. It’s all on the Wikipedia page.) I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a ten-year-old and loved the naughtiness. Unlike the uptight critics, I got it that it was tongue-in-cheek. Personally, I found the book far more light-hearted than the 1971 movie adaptation Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder. (What was with that??)
The scene that stuck with me was the gold ticket holders’ entry to the Chocolate Room, where everything was edible–and scrumdidilyumptious. My mouth-watering imagining of that scene beat the (1971 cheesy, *ahem*) movie set hands down.
What about you? What was your favourite scene from the book? Which screen adaptation did you prefer, 1971 or 2005 (with Johnny Depp as WW)? Leave a comment!
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