Category Archives: children’s literature

magical fathering.

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children’s book author roald dahl and his daughter, lucy

What If Willy Wonka Was Your Dad?

Roald Dahl’s Magical Parenting With Food

“food was a huge part of our upbringing,” lucy dahl says. her father delighted his children with fanciful “midnight feasts” in the woods and often used mealtime to test out new characters from stories he was working on.

three-course dinner chewing gum.
fizzy lifting drinks.
everlasting gobstoppers.

these, of course, are the creations of willy wonka, who himself is the creation of author roald dahl.  food is a huge part of his work, and as it turns out, dahl’s creative and sometimes twisted approach to food wasn’t confined to his books.

“food was a huge part of our upbringing,” says dahl’s daughter lucy.
tn this week’s episode of the sporkful podcast, ahead of father’s day, lucy shares stories of the witch’s potions that accompanied bedtime, the cabbage her father said came straight from the queen’s garden, and being woken up in the middle of the night to eat chocolate.

“everything about our childhood was eccentric,” she says, “although we didn’t realize it at the time because it was just normal to us.” lucy dahl is 51 now, but she still bursts with childlike glee when she recalls her father’s “midnight feasts.”

he’d wake the kids up in the middle of the night and pile them into the car – which was full of hot chocolate and cookies – and drive them up the road in the english countryside where they lived.
then they’d walk in to the woods in their pajamas to look for badgers.

“you couldn’t talk, and he’d say, ‘nobody move! and if you’ve got an itch, blow on it. try and hold your breath, try not to breathe!’ ” lucy recalls. “and sure enough, mr. badger would come prowling out and walk right past us. it was incredibly exciting.”only once they had seen an animal could they tuck in to their sweet feast.”and then,” lucy says, “we’d all go home, back to bed, delighted.”

roald dahl kept his kids entertained during normal eating hours, too. he often used mealtime to test out new characters from stories he was working on.”the minpins lived in the woods beyond our house,” lucy remembers, referring to one of her father’s last books, about a tiny people who live inside trees. “the BFG – the big friendly giant – lived underneath our orchard. it all coincided with what we ate. for breakfast were minpins’ eggs and fried bread. but what they actually were were quail eggs.”

just as roald dahl used stories to bring food to life at home, he used food to bring characters to life in his books. willy wonka’s fizzy lifting drinks aren’t just a fun idea – they also tell us something about who he is. in fantastic mr. fox, the three mean farmers who are out to get mr. fox are described only by their body shapes and their diets.

so this father’s day, wake your kids up in the middle of the night, take them into the woods in their pajamas to look for badgers, load them full of chocolate, then put them back to bed.

“even though you’re growing up,

you should never stop having fun. “

– nina dobrev

 

credits: npr, the spoon, the sporkful, dan pashman, m.haircloth

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we shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. – b. f. skinner

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the teatime reader

loved

walking around

the neighborhood

on this cool fall day

and seeing

a young child

sitting all alone

under a tree

reading

a book

aloud

happily lost

in the  

magical world

of her

imagination

he that loves reading has everything within his reach. 

– william godwin

 

The moon looks upon many night flowers; the night flowers see but one moon. Jean Ingelow

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under

Under the Spell of the Moon: Art for Children from the World’s Great Illustrators
by Patricia Aldana (Editor), Various contributors (Illustrator), Stan Dragland (Translator), Katherine Patterson (Introduction) 

The illustrated picture book is one of the most important genres of children’s literature. Great artists have devoted some or all of their working lives to creating art that accompanies a text written for children. While book illustration has been practiced for thousands of years, picture book illustration is a relatively new phenomena. This beautiful book is a collection of poetry from all around the world, illustrated by some of the finest picture book artists working today including Peter Sis, Anthony Browne and Quentin Blake.

IBBY (the International Board on Books for Children), at the heart of whose mandate lies the promotion of books of the highest quality, has been honoring illustrators through the Hans Christian Andersen Awards for nearly forty years. IBBY has also been helping to support the spread of book illustration for children to countries and cultures where such artistic activity is relatively new. In honor of IBBY’s work and to support its future work, many of the world’s greatest illustrators for children have donated art based on a text of their choice drawn from their childhood and culture. The result is a book that celebrates art created for children from around the world. The texts in the book are in both the original language and in English. Noted author and editor Stan Dragland has translated the texts.Groundwood Books will pay a royalty of 15% of all sales to IBBY.

I’ve never seen a moon in the sky that, if it didn’t take my breath away, at least misplaced it for a moment.
Colin Farrell