First, I want to point out that I’m not a teacher, but the main reason I love this book (and, by extension, everything relating to Roald Dahl) is because of one. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Pappas, gave us plenty of time to read and for 30 minutes or so a day, she’d even read to us (this was in the long-ago time, before standardized testing). She picked several great books (The Indian in the Cupboard, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) but best of all? She introduced us to Matilda and Miss Honey, Sophie and the BFG, Luke, his grandmother and the witches and, of course, Charlie and Willy Wonka.
I’m pretty sure that if the whole horcrux idea from Harry Potter is true, this book has a small piece of my soul.
I’ve always been a reader, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the first time I remember being absolutely captivated by a book. I got my own copy for my birthday one year and probably read it at least 400 times. Even so, I probably haven’t read it since middle school—although I’ve seen the Gene Wilder movie far more recently than that.
Just in case you haven’t read the book—and if that’s true for you, please remedy that now—it’s about a boy named Charlie who lives with his parents and both sets of grandparents. They’re incredibly poor but they love each other. What taunts Charlie is that he lives in a town with a chocolate factory, the best in the world, run by Willy Wonka. It had been closed for years, but recently, it opened again. Exactly who works there is a mystery…until the day Mr. Wonka announces that he will let five children (and their guardians) into the factory to see and taste its secrets. There’s going to be a worldwide contest, and the winners will be the ones who find the golden tickets. The tickets go to Augustus Gloop (incredibly fat kid), Veruca Salt (spoiled rich girl), Violet Beauregarde (gum chewer), Mike Teavee (TV freak) and, in a huge stroke of luck, Charlie. I’ll stop there, because if you haven’t read it, you need to not be spoiled about what happens to each of the kids.
Re-reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was like unexpectedly running into an old friend, someone you hadn’t seen in years but who was both exactly how you remembered but also somehow better.
It was just as darkly funny as I remembered, but there was also a lot of social commentary that’s far more relevant now. (I wonder how happy Mike Teavee would be in an era of OnDemand and DVRs and hundreds of TV channels…assuming his encounter with Mr. Wonka’s Chocolate Television room didn’t cure him of his addiction.)
I’m sorry I let so much time go by between re-readings. I’m hoping to have a Dahl-binge sometime soon.
Kelly Hager lives in Baltimore with her adorable dog, Sam. She enjoys sleeping, watching movies, anything with peanut butter as a main ingredient and, obviously, reading. She’s only slightly ashamed to admit that she likes books more than people (but not you guys; you all are great!).