Roald Dahl was born on 13 September 1916 and would be a 102 years old if he were still alive today. Apart from being a prolific writer of children’s stories, this British novelist also wrote scripts, poems and was a fighter pilot in World War II. Controversial in every way, Dahl lived an exciting life with a prank-filled childhood, a harrowing time spent in Kenya and Tanzania before completing death-defying feats in the Royal Air Force. He spills the sordid details of his escapades in his autobiographies, Boy, Going Solo and My Year, the latter of which depicts the final year of his life.
Plenty of his hijinks have made it into his stories too, with lots of witty commentary on how kids view the world. Accompanied by the whimsical illustrations of Quentin Blake, kids of all ages can relate to Dahl’s work, from childhood favourites like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to lesser known titles like The Vicar of Nibbleswicke. Adults are fans of his gruesome short stories like Skin and The Great Automatic Grammatizator. There really is a Dahl story for everyone. We’ve rounded up some of the HoneyKids and Honeycombers’ top picks of Roald Dahl’s library of reads in celebration of this unique, mercurial, beloved man.
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
We all know just how passionate Dahl was about chocolates and candies (he definitely knew his audience well) and The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me was no stranger to tantalising descriptions. The story has everything: quirky characters including a pelican with an upper beak that retracts, a giraffe with an extendable neck and dreams of owning a sweet shop. Short and sweet, everyone wins in the end. – Sheralyn Loh, Content Writer, HoneyKids
Even if you haven’t read the book, you’re sure to have seen the 1996 film, Matilda. Played by Mara Wilson, Matilda has some of the most iconic scenes where she trumps the bully principal Miss Trunchbull with her cool powers. And if you’ve ever seen or read Matilda, you’ve definitely stared at a glass willing it to tip over. – Jana Blanco, Creative Services Writer, HoneyKids
The idea of having a Big Friendly Giant who blows sweet dreams into children’s bedrooms and sucks bad dreams out is endearing. But the opposite, bad giants who eat people, are stuff straight out of nightmares. Luckily it all works out in the end, and the heroes of the story, Sophie and The BFG, even get to meet the Queen of England! – Kate Reynolds, Senior Accounts Director, HoneyKids and Honeycombers
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I love Dahl’s evocative storytelling, his perverse sense of humour and of course, his hallmark underdog winning against the odds. The way that Roald Dahl writes is so effortless and natural, it’s a pleasure to read his stories out loud to the kids. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is special to me because I am a HUGE lolly fiend and the idea that you can swim in a chocolate river and eat flowers blows my mind! – Kate Dimarco, Lifestyle Writer, HoneyKids
The Twits is hands down my favourite. I loved the dirty tricks Mr and Mrs Twit would play on each other (which taught me everything I need to know about marriage), and Quentin Blake’s illustrations of hairy beards and wonky eyes are the best thing ever. I have a vintage hardcover signed by Mr Blake – is it mean to not want to share it with the kids? – Selina Altomonte, Editor in Chief, Honeycombers
We just bought a copy of Revolting Rhymes for our boys and it’s got some surprisingly inappropriate language! It’s probably responsible for the potty mouth I had at age seven. – Selina (again)
(Fun fact: Revolting Rhymes was pulled from shelves in Aldi for having the word ‘slut’ included!)
I was a huge Roald Dahl fan as a kid and the one that got me hooked was The Witches – the premise was dark and diabolical, and the villains were, of course, unapologetically nasty. But there was always the theme of courage, love and innocence, all packaged in a wonderfully written and fantastical story. Roald Dahl never shied from being snarky and irreverent in his portrayal of grown-ups who are both cruel and conceited, something which appeals to my dark sense of humour. – Chelsia Tan, Creative Services Editor, Honeycombers
George’s Marvellous Medicine
I am sure we’ve all had a relative we would like to give a dose of George’s medicine treatment to… George was infinitely cool and made me want to be a pharmacist when I grew up (I also wanted to travel the world on a giant peach, and hang out with the BFG. And who doesn’t still look for golden tickets in their chocolate bars?). – Tracy Tristram, Editor, HoneyKids
Top image: Photography by Sheralyn Loh
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