Late into Dahl

I shall make a confession that any self-confessed bookworm would be ashamed of: until a few months ago, I was ignoring Roald Dahl.

As a child, I remember reading James and the Giant Peach after my mum bought me a copy and I enjoyed watching the original film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But otherwise, my childhood was pretty much Dahl-free. He who has been dubbed as the world’s greatest storyteller did not get any space on my bookshelf. I guess there were too many other writers to enjoy and too many other classics to to devote my time to.

This changed in the summer of 2017 when I found myself staying near a branch of Waterstones. As in most bookshops, there was a small section reserved for Roald Dahl’s books and I found myself drawn to new large and colour editions of his best known books, just smaller than A4 in size and printed in glossy paper. Quentin Blake’s popular illustrations looked superb in colour. What greatly added to the books’ appeal was that a few of them came with CDs attached at the back with narrations of the novels by well known actors, complete with music and sound effects.

I bought a copy of The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and thus begun my love story with Roald Dahl. I went back to Waterstones several times that summer. I just had to buy the other titles in the series. I bought them one by one and two by two, and pre-ordered online those which were not yet published in the new edition. For those who did not come with CDs, I bought the audio separately. To date, 17 titles have been published:

  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (read by Douglas Hodge)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (read by Douglas Hodge)
  • Danny, the Champion of the World (read by Peter Serafinowicz)
  • The Enormous Crocodile (read by Stephen Fry)
  • Fantastic Mr Fox (read by Chris O’Dowd)
  • George’s Marvellous Medicine (read Derek Jacobi)
  • The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me (read by Hugh Laurie)
  • Esio Trot (read by Quentin Blake)
  • James and the Giant Peach (read by Julian Rhind-Tutt)
  • The Magic Finger (read by Kate Winslet)
  • The Minpins (read by Bill Bailey)
  • Revolting Rhymes (read by Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Grieg and Miriam Margolyes)
  • Dirty Beasts (read by Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Grieg and Miriam Margolyes)
  • The Twits (read by Richard Ayoade)
  • The Witches (read by Miranda Richardson)
  • Matilda (read by Kate Winslet)
  • The Big Friendly Giant (read by David Walliams)

They are wonderful books to collect. The bright covers and spines look beautiful on the shelves. They are a joy to look at and a pleasure to read and listen to. I am officially a Roald Dahl fan. Better late than never.

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