“My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah my foes and oh my friends
It gives a lovely light.”
A little bit of imagination and a lot of wit seemed to be the motto of Roald Dahl’s life. And as young children we were deeply motivated by the magical ingredients he always poured into his tales. Most of us were introduced to Dahl’s books when we were kids and it is not at all surprising that his were among the first books we read. So when it comes to Roald Dahl, we go a long way back.
The first book of Dahl that I read was Matilda. I remember this because I was a young girl back then about to experience my first outing to the library. All the first graders were taken to the school library and we were allowed to just ‘go crazy’ in there. It took me a long time to ponder upon all the books and their covers (yes guilty of judging books by the covers). I chose to pick up the one where another little girl just like me was reading a book, sitting on a pile of books. It must have seemed amusing then to find a story within a story. With Matilda in hand, I walked to a seat and my magical journey began.
Now when I read it last night as an adult of twenty two years, it feels amazing to confess that the enchantment has not lost on me. When the world’s best storyteller cooks up a story of a girl who loves to read, is brilliant and can create as well as solve complicated adult problems, then you can expect nothing short of wonder.
To write stories for children it is important not to loose one’s touch with his childhood. If you cannot look at a random situation from a child’s point of view then, I am afraid, the story wouldn’t be able to connect with the young readers. It is a huge responsibility for an author to not only shape their minds and their power of imagination into beautiful moulds but also imbibe the pleasure of reading because children are easily impressed upon. A good tale can inculcate their interest into books and a not-so-good tale might just shove them away.
I am thankful that Dahl with his sheer brilliance of storytelling had captivated me as a reader right in my early years. In his stories the underlying lesson or moral is not imposed, it is subtle and just lays there for you to pick up and give it a thorough look. You can decide how you want to interpret his words and gives you a lot to think about. And the vivid description of each and every scene is fantastic. You don’t need an illustrated version of his books because the scene is painted right in front of your eyes. If there are any words that might be new to a kid’s eyes then it is necessarily explained.
Matilda, amongst many of Dahl’s other stories, shows difficult situations and particular problems that one might have to face in the real world. However as Matilda quotes Napoleon in the book “The only sensible thing to do when you are attacked, is to counterattack.” Most importantly, Roald Dahl’s Matilda gives us warm and relatable characters, be it the encouraging and loving Miss Honey, the adventurous Lavender, or the helpful librarian Mrs Phelps. And how can one forget the not so understanding parents Mr and Mrs Wormwood and the villainous Miss Trunchbull (how we hated her)! I was grateful for many a days for not having to exchange parents or headmistress with Matilda. Matilda, one in all, made us believe that we could do the impossible if we had enough sense and courage to. Also she taught us one could learn a many things without anyone’s help just by reading books.
This post and the upcoming ones are dedicated to Roald Dahl and all such storytellers who gave our lives a special meaning. They showed us the way to live separate exciting lives without moving an inch from our cosy reading corners and made us what we are now, ‘the reader of books’.