Tim Burton’s movie superseded the book. Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a wonderful visual treat. Waterfalls of chocolate, squirrels in chorus – real squirrels mind you, not computer generated graphics. Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka with his shining broad teeth and Violet who becomes a big, blueberry gum bubble herself. Nothing could be more amazing than this. That is until you open Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate factory. Words of every wonderful kind bringing out every emotion. Words that masquerade as a story, holding within the meaning of grace under pressure. Layers upon layers, cream over the cake.A book that opens by introducing us to two very old couples, the Buckets, their children and their wonderful grandson Charlie. It opens not in a palace or even a home of modest comfort.
‘The house wasn't nearly large enough for so many people, and life was extremely uncomfortable for them all. There were only two rooms in the palace altogether, and there was only one bed. The bed was given to the four old grandparents because they were so old and tired.They were so tired, they never got out of it’
Soon we are introduced to Grandpa Joe’s memories of the amazing chocolate factory owned by Mr. Willy Wonka. We are regaled with stories about the unimaginable treats that were to be had at Mr. Wonka’s factory, even while they eat their daily diet of watery cabbage soup.
Quentin Blake's chocolicious illustrations
The story builds up to the point where five children are invited to the Wonka factory if they win the Golden Ticket hidden in the Wonka chocolates.Five children including Charlie win the tickets. Grandpa Joe accompanies Charlie to the factory and adventures unfold till one child alone is left.
The entire book is so engaging and interesting that while I could share more details of the storyline with you dear reader, I will not. I want you to experience the joy of unwrapping this chocolate of a book and relish each paragraph and chapter. I want you to at the end of it relish the sweet after taste you have just experienced and keep going back to the many flavours in the book.
There are verses by Roald Dahl in the book that will make you say them once and then ten more for their sheer deliciousness and common sense. Take for example when Veruca Salt, the pampered little rich girl goes down a chute.
'Veruca Salt, the little brute,Has just gone down the rubbish chute(And as we very rightly thoughtThat in a case like this we oughtTo see things completely through,We've polished off her parents, too).Down goes Veruca! Down the drain!And here, perhaps, we should explainThat she will meet, as she descends,A rather different set of friends,To those that she has left behind-These won’t be nearly so refined.A fish head for example, cut,This morning from a halibut.“Hello! Good Morning! How do you do?How nice to meet you! How are you?”And then a little further downA mass of others gather round:A bacon rind, some rancid lard,A loaf of bread gone stale and hard,A steak that nobody can chew,An oyster from an oyster stew,Some liverwurst so old and greyOne smelled it from a mile away,A rotten nut, a reeky pear,A thing the cat left on the stair,And lots of other things as well,Each with a rather horrid smell.These are Veruca’s new found friendsThat she will meet as she descends,And this is the price she has to payFor going so very far astray.But now, my dears, we think you mightBe wondering-is it really rightThat very single bit of blameAnd all the scolding and the shameShould fall on Veruca Salt?Is she the only one at fault?For though she’s spoiled, and dreadfully so,A girl can spoil herself , you know.Who spoiled her then? Ah, who indeed?Who pandered to her every need?Who turned her into such a brat?Who are the culprits? Who did that?Alas! You needn't look so far,To find out who these sinners are.They are (and this is very sad)Her loving parents, MUM and DAD.And that is why we’re glad they fellInto the rubbish chute as well’.
Willy Wonka who we expect as maker of chocolates probably loves children, turns out to be really fond of chocolate. Children he more or less tolerates. Dahl, through Wonka’s eyes tells us children have very different personalities, some wonderful, some repulsive. Wonka turns out to be totally in love with his factory and in search of an heir.
This blog would be completely incomplete if I did not include a note about Quentin Blake's (who hardly needs my words of praise) lines of genius. His illustrations and Roald Dahl's words make Charlie and The Chocolate Factory an output of genius.
Fairy tale, moral science, science-fiction – what is this story all about really?
Think of it as a multi-flavour fizz pop that zings, pops and leaves you astounded in the mind and warmed in the heart.