Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wonka's Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight

Usually when I need to give my brain a break I go to my childhood favorites.  This time I picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  This book has always appealed to me for many reasons, not the least of which is the idea of endless chocolate.  Ready to go on a wild ride?  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Charlie Bucket is a very poor boy who lives with his parents and his four bed bound Grandparents in a tiny drafty house.  They subsist mostly on cabbage soup with the occasional bite of bread.  They are a loving family though and do there best to help each other survive.  Grandpa Joe tells little Charlie the story of Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory that had to shut its doors to the public due to all the spying going on.  Grandpa Joe tells Charlie that one day the factory started up again, with mysterious workers helping Wonka produce sweet wonders...but the gates remained closed and locked.  One night an announcement goes out that in five random Wonka chocolate bars are golden tickets that will allow a person into the Wonka factory.  Obviously the world is vary excited and a run on chocolate bars ensues.  The first person to find a golden ticket is the gluttonous Agustus Gloop, a little boy who won't stop eating.  Next is the very spoiled Veruca Salt who obtained her ticket when her father paid his peanut shellers to open candy bars instead.  Charlies birthday happens and he gets his traditional chocolate bar which sadly contains no golden ticket.  The third ticket goes to the annoying, gum chewing Violet Beauregarde and the fourth to the television and violence obsessed Mike Teavee.  Grandpa Joe figures out a way to get Charlie another chocolate bar, which again holds no ticket.  Mr. Bucket loses his job at the toothpaste factory and the family begins to starve.  Charlie finds a dollar bill on the way home and uses it to buy chocolate (smart boy) he wolfs it down and buys another and lo and behold GOLDEN TICKET!  The long anticipated day arrives and the five winners along with their parents (except Charlie who just brings Grandpa Joe) arrive at the factory to meet the mysterious Willy Wonka.  They are greeted by a funny little man in a green had and purple velvet coat who promptly brings them inside the wondrous factory.   The first stop is my personal favorite, a huge meadow area where EVERYTHING is edible and made of candy! How cool is that ?!?  The best part is the chocolate river running through it.  Here we lose our first winner when Augustus Gloop falls into the river while drinking the chocolate and is sucked up the pipe.  Here we also meet the Oompa Loompa's, small weird colored guys who sing mean, yet insightful songs about our wayward winners.  The remaining people get into a fantastic boat and go hurtling down the chocolate river past many tantalizing doors stopping in an experimental room where our next child leaves us.  The gum chewing Violet grabs an experimental piece of gum and turns into a giant blueberry.  New up the nut sorting squirrles who decide Veruca is a bad nut when she try's to get her greedy little hands on one, bye bye Veruca.  We are now down to Mike TeaVee and Charlie Bucket.  Mike requests something TV related and Wonka takes them to a room where he is transmitting chocolate by radio waves to televisions.  Mike gets himself miniaturized when he jumps in front of the camera to get on TV.  We are now left with just sweet Charlie Bucket and his grandfather.  Willy Wonka then reveals that the whole point of the competition was to find an heir to his factory.  He offers it to Charlie, telling him the whole family can move in.  The book ends with Wonka telling Charlie to press a special button on the glass elevator that hurls them to Charlies home where they pick up his family to start a better life.
World Building - The book is a semi-fantastical novel mostly set in this awesome chocolate factory.  The world is fairly contained and more hinted at then shown.  There is a huge scope for people to fill in details and use their imagination to make the factory anything they want it to be.  My favorite spot is the meadow and chocolate river as it makes my imagination explode.

Story - The main story was pretty straight forward, a cautionary tale for children.  This is the type of story that tells you if you behave you can inherit a chocolate factory :-)  It also had a good punch of humor and straight up crazy which is always a plus for me.  Keeping in mind that this is an old school MG book I think the story kept a good balance between cheeky and a morality tale.

Character - The main characters were all pretty stock style characters, but this was done on purpose to illustrate a point, so I will give the kids a pass on this one.  I do however love Veruca Salt not for any real reason, I just do.  I also really enjoy Grandpa Joe's spunkyness and his ability to take quiet Charlie on this great adventure.  Of course my absolute favorite character is Willy Wonka. Just his name makes me smile, but what I really love is his sheer eccentricness.  He is the perfect mix of creative, dreamy, responsible, compassionate, logical and bat sh*t crazy.  I love everything about him.

Editing - This was a pretty simple and straight forward book told in a simple and straight forward way.  Not a lot to say about the editing other then it was fine.  Also there a bunch of really weird, scary yet fitting illustrations by Quentin Blake that add the perfect touch to this book.

Parents - The children in this book all had very obvious flaws that caused their downfall, but what I thought was interesting and very cool was that the book was very clear that the reason the children had gotten as bad as they were was the fault of the parents.  We see multiple times where the parents could have brought their precious darlings to heel, but instead indulged and defended them.  It's good to know that the author at least knew where bad kids come from...bad parents.  In contrast Charlie's family was responsible and loving and had trained Charlie so well he didn't even need his parents at factory, instead he go his spunky Grandpa Joe.

Imagination - I like how this book inspires imagination.  There are a couple well explained rooms and candies, but most are just hinted at.  I like this because it gives the reader a chance to imagine what all the different things could be, or look like, or taste like.  The lay out of the book also hints at almost endless possibilities, making this a great book to read with your kids or nephews and nieces or whoever because it leaves a ton of open ended conversations.  Even the "punishments" that the naughty kids get are creative, and in the end not permanent.

Movies - I can't mention this book without talking about the movies.  There is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder as the title character, and the later Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp at Willy Wonka.  Now I adore Johnny Depp and I know that to some degree Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is more faithful to the book, but I mostly find it a tad too creepy for my taste.  The Gene Wilder version on the other hand is one of my favorite movies ever!  While it definitely does not follow the book word for word it most definitely keeps the spirit of the book to the fullest extant.  It will probably come as no surprise to anybody that my favorite scene is the World of Pure Imagination song/scene.  Also I feel that Gene Wilder captures the person of Willy Wonka perfectly.

Overall Impression - I very much enjoy this book, I feel it is entirley age appropriate, not overly complicated or angsty and is perfect for reading with a younger person.  I feel it encourages conversation and imagination and pretty much recommend it to everybody.  I give it 8 out of 10 everlasting gobstoppers and am now going to go watch the movie and eat some chocolate.  Happy Reading Everybody!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment