Today Roald Dahl would have been 96 years old and on this special anniversary readers of Kindle books are getting a Golden Ticket of sorts--for the first time ever eight of Dahl's most beloved titles are available as eBooks.
Topping the list of Roald Dahl favorites is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who can forget the moment when half-starved Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe see the wonder of Wonka's factory for the first time? The glistening sugar boat taking them down a melted chocolate river; candy inventions that we can almost taste in their description (I still want to try that gum...); the Oompa-Loompas wacky songs accompanying the exit of each over-privileged child as greed gets the best of them? The setting is the stuff childhood dreams are made of (and let's be honest, I would still be thrilled to visit Willy Wonka's chocolate factory), but I think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is magical and timeless because, in this story, good things happen to good people, the poor triumph over the rich, and dreams really do come true.
James and the Giant Peach was Dahl's second book for children and is one of my all-time favorites--my sister gave me a beautiful hardcover copy (like this one) a couple of decades ago (our mom had to read it to us over and over when we were kids) and it remains one of my most cherished possessions. In James and the Giant Peach, James Henry Trotter becomes an orphan at the age of four under totally bizarre circumstances and is packed off to live with his horrible aunts Striker and Sponge. But like Charlie Bucket, "fabulous, unbelievable things" happen to James and he finds himself on an incredible journey inside a giant golden peach, in the company of anthropomorphic insects--including a centipede with a shoe fetish--who love and care for him and to whom he is not a burden but a blessing. I can't look at a peach without thinking of this story, and it makes them all the sweeter for it.
Roald Dahl is an icon of children's literature and I could go on and on about the unique pleasures of each of his children's books, their film adaptations (Johnny Depp or Gene Wilder as the best Willy Wonka?), Dahl's early life as a WWII pilot, and later work as a screenwriter (for Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and author of adult books. But instead I will leave you with the titles that I hope to see on the Kindles of my fellow airplane passengers and bus riders in the coming days (full disclosure: I totally eavesdrop on other people's reading material). If you have a favorite Roald Dahl book to share with other Omni readers, let us know.
Below are the Roald Dahl Kindle books and you can see more of his books here: