The thing about Roald Dahl’s children’s stories is that every single one of them is cherished and a classic in its own right. Those of us who are fans love his books for the simple genius of them. Such an incredible imagination Dahl was in possession of to conjure up worlds of suit-wearing foxes, dyslexic vicars and telekinetic schoolchildren; a world where abused simian get their revenge and young boys do away with their miserable grandmothers using interesting homemade remedies.
And so without further ado, here are my all-time top five favourite Roald Dahl stories.
One of the filthiest and most vile of Dahl’s children’s stories, and that’s just describing Mr Twit’s beard. A short tale about a disgusting husband and wife who finally get their just desserts when the animals around them have had enough of the years of abuse they have been forced to endure for the amusement of the Twits. Just a shame Hug-Tight Sticky Glue is fictitious.
Poor George. I don’t think he really intended to do away with his wretched grandmother, but you can’t deny how Dahl deliciously exploits his macabre imagination in this one. Let’s be honest, if you drank the ‘medicine’ that George made, you wouldn’t even survive the journey to A&E to have your stomach pumped. My favourite bit is when Mr Kranky gets far too over-excited and Mrs Kranky drops her bottle of milk in shock at the sight of the gigantic hen in their farm.
A very underrated Dahl book. This gorgeous little tale tells the story of Mr Hoppy and his unrequited love for the lady who lives in the apartment below him, Mrs Silver. For years Mrs Silver has been ignorant of Mr Hoppy’s love for her, but he eventually wins hers by helping her beloved pet tortoise, Alfie, increase in size. How he goes about this little miracle you will have to read, but suffice to say for such a short book it is such a beautiful and heart-warming love story.
Oh my gosh I cannot tell you how many times I have read this book, and every time I do how it becomes more sinister and terrifying. One of Dahl’s longer books, it’s a story I would relish as a child with its depth of detail in just how merciless and evil these witches are. It carries on Dahl’s classic theme that children are the champions of the world, and how one of them in mouse form, aided by his shrewd grandmother, manages to rid England of its population of these fiendish females.
Matilda is like the tame, PG-friendly younger sister of Carrie. However she doesn’t use her powers of telekinesis to seek revenge on the school bullies with a bucket of pig’s blood, she puts them to the more selfless use of assuming the identity of a spirit to help her beloved schoolteacher, Miss Honey, claim her rightful inheritance from her demonic and formidable aunt, Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress at the same school. What I love most about Matilda though is not her power or what she does for Miss Honey, but more her loathing of television, her love of books and her stellar intelligence and sensitivity.