In this era of Harry Potter mania it still seems inconceivable that children and parents read anything that didn’t contain characters called Harry, Hermione, Ron and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. But I still believe in poor, poor Charlie Bucket and the greatest journey from rags to riches of them all.
Sorry JK but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the greatest children’s book of all time and Roald Dahl one of the greatest authors.
Read that book again. You’ll thank me for it! It’s so easy to slip back into a world of Wonka bars, golden tickets, chocolate rivers, everlasting gobstoppers and singing oompa loompas.
I still remember that excitement when Charlie found a stray coin in the snow. He buys two bars. The first disappoints, but the second becomes this euphoric moment when he slowly peels back the packaging to find the final shiny golden ticket. This one moment sums up the beauty of the book. This is a book for underdogs and dreamers.
OK, I admit that I still feel sorry for Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregard. We live in a world now that struggles to compete with the allure of smartphones, video games and the possibilities of virtual reality escapism. It makes me fear for a whole generation who might end up just like Mike Teevee.
My two children are now four and two. My eldest has started reading. Each evening he works through the mock-heroic stories of Biff and Kipper but I know what he’s working towards. I know what’s coming and love that he doesn’t. He’s only a few years away and I want to tell him about it all like Grandpa Joe tells Charlie.
Do you know what? I might even go upstairs right now and wake him up, just to let him know that it really is true, “that Mr Willy Wonka is the most amazing, the most fantastic, the most extraordinary chocolate maker the world has ever seen! I thought everybody knew that.”