Roald Dahl has to be one of the world’s most well-known and famous authors of children’s books. He certainly knew how to write stories that have lasted the test of time with some being transformed for the big and little screens with movies and television shows. He published 49 books, 21 of them being children’s fiction and even 3 poetry books for children. His books have now sold in excess of 250 copies worldwide.
Do you know what tortoise is spelt backwards? Roald Dahl, one of the world’s great storytellers, did and even wrote a book with that title, that book is called Esio Trot, the last of his books to be published in his lifetime (he had others published after his death in 1990).
Esio Trot is a love story written for children. Mr Hoppy is a very shy man. He lives alone in his apartment, tending to his plants on his balcony and has a big secret, he is secretly in love with his downstairs neighbour, Mrs Silver. But he soon comes up with a plan with the aim to win the heart of Mrs Silver.
Mrs Silver lives in the apartment directly below Mr Hoppy. She doesn’t live alone like Mr Hoppy, she has her small pet tortoise called Alfie who lives on her balcony. Mrs Silver wishes that Alfie would grow a bit bigger as she has had him several years and has hardly grown so Mr Hoppy gives her some magic words to recite that he says will make Alfie double in size in only 2 months. But of course, that’s impossible, so Mr Hoppy has to come up with a plan, with the aid of a tortoise catcher and 140 tortoises, to make this happen and hopefully win Mrs Silver’s affections. But will he be able to do it, and will they live happily ever after?
Overall, Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot is a good, simple story that children aged 7 to 9 years old will adore, a love story inspired by Alfie the tortoise. It is very well written as you would expect from the master storyteller. To accompany the engaging text are some excellent drawings, it has been very well illustrated by the wonderful Quentin Blake.
Children will love this tale but as an adult reader there is a downside. The message it gives is wrong. The story is about a lonely old man who over the course of weeks keeps stealing his neighbour’s beloved pet and replacing it with others with the ultimate aim of winning her heart and tricking her into marrying him. Whilst the story may have a happy ending (as much as it can be when you are tricking someone into doing something), the method used to get there isn’t a very good message to be sending. But that is probably just me being overly critical as most young readers most likely won’t see it. It is a story ultimately about a relationship built on lies and deceit.
Ignoring the adult view, through a critical eye, of the underhanded deception and looking at it as a story of just pure children’s fiction without a moral message, it is classic Dahl. It is a well-written and enjoyable, fun read that children will be able to read easily at a fast pace as it is a short book and one that they will enjoy the humour of.
RRP: £8.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)