I SAID GOOD (Roald Dahl) DAY, SIR!


Way back in second grade, Mrs Maultsby loved to read us stories.  In my memory, she looks and sounds just like Della Reese.

One of the stories she read us was “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Every school day, I couldn’t wait to get back from lunch, because that was storytime.  We laughed and thrilled and worried, and we probably gasped a few times as well.

After that, she read some other book, before launching into “James and the Giant Peach.” Wow.  Another thrilling tale.

Around that time, ABC showed “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” as their Friday Night Movie. It was okay.

Now, it’s one of my favorites, but back then, fresh from hearing Mrs Maultsby read it, I was a little disappointed.

I was also disappointed one Christmas, when somebody gave me “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” a collection of short stories.  While I remembered those two novels from second grade, the author’s name didn’t register. I put it in my closet. A couple years later, my family was packing for a huge roadtrip out west, and I was packing every book I could find.

I read “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” cover to cover, then started right back at the beginning, enraptured.

A couple decades later, I did that with the first Harry Potter book.

Roald Dahl was amazing, with the same joyous coconspiratorial Kindernfreude shown by Dr Seuss.  Both of them took winking pokes at silly grown-ups, whose eyes were blinded to wonder.

I think my copy of “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” probably got sold at a yard sale, or taken to the used book store to exchange for something new.  I read it ten times if I read it once, and I remember loving each of those stories on its own terms.  I get the impression Roald Dahl loved each of his books the same way.  And I toast him tonight, grateful for his genius, and better off for having met him, all those years ago, in a cold dumpy house near a chocolate factory.


7 Responses to “I SAID GOOD (Roald Dahl) DAY, SIR!”

  1. Freedom Smith Says:

    I have very fond memories of being read to by some of my teachers. I specifically remember my 5th grade teacher reading a story about a boy and a dog. I looked forward to her reading every day!

    How wonderful that you were instilled with a love for reading. I have that love and have tried to pass it down to my children. I read out loud to them and tried to always have books on hand. My two children with ADD have had the most difficult time “loving” reading. For my son, it was the Harry Potter books that finally snagged him. For my daughter, it was the Twilight series. I watched in wonder, as my reluctant readers devoured such thick books.

    My son just left for his senior retreat. He took, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” a book he read this summer, because he loved it so much that he wants to re-read it. That is what I call a miracle 😀

    • No matter what stage of life I’ve lived, reading has been a constant friend. Good times or bad, I’ve always treasured that escape. Even if I tormented my first grade teacher by reading all the books in the classroom, so she kept having to visit the library. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I liked The Witches, which an aunty used to read us when we were all little. Still to this day, if I see someone with gloves and square-toed shoes, I think to myself, “Hmmmm.”

    Also, loved, loved, loved The BFG.

  3. After Dr Suess Callum’s most favourite bed time books are those of Roald Dahl. We love to read his poetry in particular his versions of cinderella and snow white.
    Its authors like Roald Dahl who give kids the love of reading. I loved the Twits when I was a kid, Callum’s favourite though is Matilda- he is forever asking me to read it to him. Callum has my old copies, which are worn and have tears in the pages. Once he is big enough to take care of things I will buy him his own copies.

    • Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl, and AC/DC. Callum is an exemplary young man of letters. He’s lucky to have such an awesome mum. 🙂

  4. I love teachers that just know how to tell a story. It’s the only way to make kids realize how amazing reading can be.

    I mean, really, what other form of entertainment allows you to be so creative while engaged in it? I’m sure everyone imagines each character in a book differently (until it’s made into a movie). I remember reading The DaVinci Code and imagining Prof. Langdon so differently than the character Tom Hanks played! (Not to mention, the story was more interesting in its more controversial form.) My Prof. Langdon was kind of sexy in that nerdy way. Tom Hanks had really. bad. hair.

    … Anyway, YAY READING!

    • That was some freaky hair, certainly not the hair I imagined in the book. I’m usually disappointed at how lame most movies are compared to the way I envisioned the stories while reading them. (The Harry Potter films are frequent exceptions, in that they do an admirable job of truncating the unnecessary parts from the book)
      Of course, in my imagination, things can be wildly different. When I first read Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, I pictured Hermione as looking like Wendy Testaburger from South Park, and Professor Moody as the deranged teacher on Daria. Hey, it’s my imagination, so it’s perfectly valid.

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