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Ursula K. Le Guin’s April 1973 Letter to the Editor

Eleanor Cameron’s remarks on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the Horn Book may draw some fire upon her; it’s always perilous to do anything to a bestseller but adulate it. My response to her October article is one of relief and hearty thanks. It is good to have an accurate diagnosis of one’s vague […]

Roald Dahl’s Twit or Miss app review

When you open Roald Dahl’s Twit or Miss (Penguin, 2015; iOS and Android), a British-accented voice welcomes you to “the ghastly world of The Twits.” Then you’re ushered through an overgrown yard and into the Twits’ dining room, with art inspired by Quentin Blake’s classic illustrations. The app consists of a single game with a […]

Happy 100th birthday, Roald Dahl!

Roald 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 […]

Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary

Exunckly. Frobscottle. Geraneous Giraffe. Wonka bar. The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary (compiled by lexicographer Susan Rennie; Oxford University Press, September 2016) is “an extra-usual dictionary” (extra-usual, of course, meaning “extraordinarily large or extraordinarily powerful — or both, in the case of the BFG’s ears”). It includes everyday words related in some way to Roald Dahl’s […]

In a word…the logophile’s journey

Every group text, email chain, and Facebook thread has one… that one member who can’t help but change someone’s “who” to “whom,” who balks at the improper use of “their” and “there,” and who inserts the little star symbol to indicate a correction on a daily basis. Yes, indeed, some may see it as a […]

A deluge of Dahl

Matilda the Musical, based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel, is at the Boston Opera House through June 26th. The BFG, a movie based on Dahl’s 1982 novel, opens in theaters July 1st (and I was lucky enough to attend an advance screening with Horn Book alum and Dahl fan Cindy Ritter). I had a very […]

Charlie at fifty

Veruca Salt is old enough now that she could be spoiling her own grandchildren somewhere. But she’s probably still keeping all the chocolate to herself. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory turns fifty this year, and publishers are taking notice. Original publisher Alfred A. Knopf commemorates the occasion with a formidably sized fiftieth anniversary edition with, […]

An unexpected encounter with The Gremlins

On a recent trip to New Orleans I spent a day visiting the National World War II Museum. The museum itself was a treat for this history buff to explore, but as a children’s literature aficionado, I also got a pleasant surprise in the gift shop: on display was a book by Roald Dahl. I […]

Review of Matilda

Matilda by Roald Dahl; illus. by Quentin Blake Intermediate     Viking Kestrel     240 pp. 10/88     0-670-82439-9     $14.95 Caricature and satire are not in themselves undesirable forms of writing for children, but Roald Dahl, admittedly a remarkably gifted author, sometimes carries them too far in expressing his bleak view of human nature. The story of Matilda is […]

Review of The BFG

The BFG by Roald Dahl; illus. by Quentin Blake Intermediate     Farrar     221 pp. 1982     0-374-30469-6     $10.95 The BFG is a big friendly giant who kidnaps the orphan Sophie right out of her bed one dark night. He takes her back to Giant Country, the land of the horrible giants Fleshlumpeater, Childchewer, and the rest. All […]