I may have not found a Golden Ticket to a sweet factory filled with wonder and delicious chocolate, but I have found the next best thing and have just finished reading the delightful classic children’s story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
Charlie and the Chocolate is the first book of two in the Charlie Bucket series.
Charlie Bucket is a sweet and kind boy who lives in a house with his parents and both sets of grandparents. They are a very poor family, but a very loving one. As their house isn’t very big, all four grandparents sleep in one room and all in the same bed. With only one income, Mr Bucket works in the toothpaste factory screwing lids onto tubes of toothpaste, and with seven mouths to feed their meals consist of lots of cabbage – imagine the putrid smells that must come from that house! (I’m glad that this isn’t a scratch and sniff book!)
Charlie lives in a town where the world’s largest, and most famous, chocolate factory is, you all know what it is – Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Charlie craved chocolate but as his family couldn’t afford luxuries, he had chocolate once a year on his birthday.
Wonka’s Factory is a secretive place, no employees are ever seen going in … or out! So when Willy Wonka places an advert in the paper announcing that 5 Golden Tickets have been placed in random chocolate bars to be won by 5 lucky winners, Charlie is hoping that with his birthday approaching he will be one of the lucky winners. Unfortunately, he wasn’t that lucky. But his luck eventually changes, and he wins the last of the 5 Golden Tickets to visit the mysterious and magical chocolate factory of Willy Wonka. Along with four other children, Augustus Gloop – a glutton for chocolate, Veruca Salt – a spoiled and selfish brat, Violet Beauregarde – a repulsive gum-chewer and Mike Teavee – a television fiend, they embark on a whimsical adventure full of surprises, dangers, and wonders.
Overall, this is a fantastic story, full of imagination and humour. A story of a wonderous trip around a sweet factory with chocolate rivers, lakes and waterfalls, edible grass and trees, flowers and bushes. Then there is the factory staff, the happy singing and dancing Oompa-Loopas from Loompaland, and that’s just the beginning. As readers salivate as they read through the pages of delicious sounding sweets and treats it is also a story that teaches some very important lessons about greed, selfishness, kindness and everybody getting exactly what they deserve.
As it is a Dahl story, it is packed with his unique dark humour and Gobblefunk language that has some excellent words such as Hornswogglers, Snozzwanglers and Wangdoodles. His writing is witty, funny and very engaging.
The characters are great, a mixture of loveable and loathsome and of course the very colourful and eccentric Willy Wonka himself. Willy Wonka can be quite rude at times; he has no time for people with bad manners or bad behaviour.
The chapters are a good length for young readers, keeping their interest and enjoyment.
As usual, the book is illustrated by the wonderful Quentin Blake. The illustrations are charming and add to the fun of the story.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a fun fantasy story with some excellent messages around greed and selfishness as well as kindness. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who loves chocolate, fantasy, or just a good fun read. This is a book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. At nearly 60 years old (it was first published in 1964), the fact that children are still enjoying the story today shows just how timeless and fun it is.
RRP: £9.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)