Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book: The Witches

More Dahl... more deliciously devillish Dahl.

This might just be my favorite non-Willy-Wonka Dahl book. I think the Chocolate Factory books (both the original and the Great Glass Elevator) are genius. They are in a class to themselves. But I really, really love this book. (my other two favorites are The BFG and James and the Giant Peach. But really, there's nothing he's written that I don't like. )

Don't see the movie (although it's just fine). Read the book. Roald Dahl has such an amazing use of language in his storytelling. It makes me smile out loud (you know what I mean!) to read it.

A dear small boy tragically loses his parents and goes to live with his grandmother. Grandmamma (who smokes cigars and doesn't worry about things like baths for children) is a great storyteller... but the story she tells him about real witches is not fiction. It's the truth, and every child needs to know The Truth About Real Witches. They are out to get you. They want to kill you. They are very, very dangerous. So you mustn't ever, ever talk to a woman wearing a wig and gloves, and exhibiting lovely curvy nostrils (the better to smell you with).

The boy and his grandmother go to the seaside to stay in a hotel. While there... the boy discovers that the great meeting of all the witches in England is being held in that very hotel! Unfortunately... they soon discover, him, as well. What happens next does not equal a happy ending (although it's not particularly sad, either, except for the witches), but it is a real heart-stopping adventure, genuinely scary and wonderful.

I don't have the book handy, but really, you MUST go read this if you haven't already. The language and the characters are so engaging and fun. The Grand High Witch is terrifying (and be sure to get the edition with Quentin Blake's illustrations). The recipe for the Grand Plan is wonderful nonsense. The naughty characters are truly naughty. The brave characters are truly brave. And the witches... well, you'll never look at a lady wearing gloves the same way again.

I read this for the first time when I was in middle school, I am guessing. I wish someone had read it to me when I was in elementary school. I could have read it myself, but it's the sort of book that just begs to be read to a young child by an adult (especially because it is a little scary). I always loved scary books (my all-time favorite frightening story being The Tailypo, which scares me to this day) and I think it would be a really fun book to read to kids in the autumn... as Halloween draws near.

(yes, I am totally already planning my annual October Halloween Extravaganza, including a movie list, book list, and crafty ideas)

I think that's all the Dahl I have in my pile for now, but I plan on reading more this year, especially if Ana does her Dahl Marathon!

I'm feeling better in general and not needing so many comfort books. However, I'm sort of determined to continue my way through the stack. Currently am reading The Wind In The Willows although I might be feeling a bit done with children's lit right now. I'm thinking of putting it down and starting something else. I opened up the big Sandman collection (what I thought was a collection) and it was NOT a collection, but sort of a Sandman primer, which was disappointing. So I will have to go on a search for the actual comix. I know a friend has them, I should ask her if I can borrow them.

Anyway. I've seriously got to plan my autumn reading. I've been saving books (in my mind) all year for the fall, and now I've got quite a virtual list going. I need to make sure I can read them all in time! I think I need a last-half-of-the-year TBR list.


Carl V. said...

I might have mentioned this before, but The Twits is my favorite Dahl children's book. It is just too funny. This one is great as well. I remember reading it in my early 20's when I was working in a bookstore and discovered Dahl for the first time.

I would suggest pulling out a book of his adult short stories around Halloween time. Some of those are nice and twisted, perfect for that time of year. The Roald Dahl Book of Ghosts (in which he selected various ghost stories that he liked from other authors) is another great read.

Daphne said...

Oh yes, I totally forgot to mention that I'm going to be looking for his adult stories soon. A friend recommended Royal Jelly as a good creepy one. :) Thanks!

Lahni said...

My six-year old and I are reading this one right now. He's loving it, and keeps bringing to me and begging me to read it all day (we usually only read at night, before bed)!

Anonymous said...

Hi Daph,

Have you read the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning? Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever? I just read the series and REALLY enjoyed it!! I thought of you as I was reading it, thinking that you might enjoy it too.

Hope you are having a great weekend!


Lesley said...

Love this book! The movie's not half bad, but definitely doesn't do the book justice.

Daphne said...

Lahni: isn't it wonderful? Six is the perfect age for it, too.

Cathy: no, haven't read those! I'll check them out next time we're at the library...

Lesley: no, the movie was pretty good. The book, however, is of course amazing!