what an elementary teacher
after-school book meeting looks like
all full of colors, sparkling water, and clever words.
“books are uniquely portable magic.”
– stephen king
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.
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
“where the wild things are”
was initially pitched as
“where the wild horses are”
his editor loved the pitch but
sendak could not draw horses
so the wild things he drew
ended up being
caricatures of his relatives.
“writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
credits: maurice sendak, “where the wild things are” – 1963, harper and collins
100 Years Later,
Beatrix Potter’s Tale Of A Fanciful Feline To Be Published
At long-lost Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, is set to be released this fall, 150 years after the beloved author’s birth.
The tale about a sharply dressed feline has “all the hallmarks of Potter’s best works,” editor Jo Hanks, who stumbled upon the story, says in an interview with Penguin U.K., which will publish the book.
At the time Potter was writing Kitty-in-Boots in 1914, she told her publisher that the story was centered on “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life.”
Hanks says she “stumbled on an out-of-print collection of her writings” and saw that reference to the story in a letter from Potter to her publisher.
This led her to the publisher’s archive, where she says she found “three manuscripts, two handwritten in children’s school notebooks and one typeset and laid out in a dummy book; one rough colour sketch of Kitty-in-Boots and
a pencil rough of our favourite arch-villain, Mr Tod.”
The original Kitty in Boots,
which Beatrix Potter illustrated herself.
The tale features a favorite Potter character — Peter Rabbit — “albeit older, slower and portlier,” Hanks says. Potter told her publisher in letters that the story went unfinished because of “interruptions” — including the start of World War I and her marriage.
And because Potter finished only one drawing for the book, it will be illustrated by Quentin Blake, who is best-known for his art in many of Roald Dahl’s books.
Quentin Blake’s Kitty in Boots.
“Quentin revels in rebellious characters and humorous stories with spiky edge to them; he’s brought anarchic energy to the character of Kitty and embellished her already endearingly flawed character with his trademark wit and charm,” Hanks says. The news about Blake’s illustration has delighted many Potter fans. Others are more skeptical about the pairing.
Here’s an excerpt from the story released by Penguin, with a cliffhanger ending:
“Once upon a time there was a serious, well-behaved young black cat.
“It belonged to a kind old lady who assured me that no other cat could compare with Kitty.“She lived in constant fear that Kitty might be stolen — ‘I hear there is a shocking fashion for black cat-skin muffs; wherever is Kitty gone to? Kitty! Kitty!’
“She called it ‘Kitty’, but Kitty called herself ‘Miss Catherine St. Quintin’
“Cheesebox called her ‘Q’, and Winkiepeeps called her ‘Squintums’. They were very common cats. The old lady would have been shocked had she known of the acquaintance.
“And she would have been painfully surprised had she ever seen Miss Kitty in a gentleman’s Norfolk jacket, and little fur-lined boots. “Now most cats love the moonlight and staying out at nights; it was curious how willingly Miss Kitty went to bed. And although the wash-house where she slept — locked in — was always very clean, upon some mornings Kitty was let out with a black chin. And on other mornings her tail seemed thicker, and she scratched.
“It puzzled me. It was a long time before I guessed there were in fact two black cats!”
You’ll have to wait until the book is published in September to find out what happens next.
credits: quentin blake, beatrix potter, penguin press, express newspapers, getty images, npr
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.