Happy 100th birthday, Roald Dahl!

roald-dahl-100Roald Dahl wrote a lot, from short stories for adults to fantastical novels for kids. But what I love best about his work is the poetry, which he often tucked into his novels in the form of characters bursting into song. (Those Oompa Loompas had songs in the books with nary a “doopity doo.”) So in his honor, here’s a quick birthday poem inspired by a song the Centipede sings in James and the Giant Peach. (To sum up, he’s eaten many strange and scrumptious dishes in his time…but none compare to this fantastic peach.)

I’ve done a lot of strange and scrumptious reading in my time
of fantasies and histories and stories — hey — in rhyme!
But one guy in a century has set the paradigm
for one specific, certain brand of silliness sublime.

For who could craft such characters, or write a tale so tall,
a story of a peach that rose and didn’t simply fall?
Yes, who invented goofy words, and used them to enthrall?
It’s someone so splendiferous! It’s this fantastic Dahl!
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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