Missing Dahl

rd cover



By Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake


Published by: Puffin (September 2, 2010)

Available in: paperback, Kindle, NOOK


Sweet treat—just don’t believe the marketing.

The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets is a fantabulous little chapter book, with delicious bites of facts, fiction and Dahl’s musings. But beware: the marketing promotes it as a candy-coated addition to Dahl’s beloved masterpiece, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. And that’s not really the case.

Here’s the story. Dahl died in 1990, but three years later a book of his thoughts and essays was published under the title My Year. It included childhood reminiscences, thoughts on writing and a month-by-month collection of essays on the natural world.  The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets is the adapted, edited (for a younger crowd of about second and third grades), relatively new release of My Year.

The month-by-month bit is itself worth a read. And since this is January, this book would be a nice project to give a child: read each month as the year goes on, and compare and contrast what Dahl notices (moles, grass snakes and stolen rides on a motorbike are some delectable examples).

In fact, this is not really a good book to read from the beginning to end. Like a jar of multi-flavored jellybeans, this is best savored one small bite at a time. A child can keep this by his bed and jump in to savor just one delicious taste, like a list of Roald Dahl’s favorite things and what he kept on his table (hipbone, meteorite); what Dahl thought of his longtime, brilliant illustrator, Quentin Blake; chocolate facts; a quiz; a recipe; and yes, as promised by that zealous, over-sugary group in the marketing department, a missing chapter from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

As a writer, I’m slightly offended that so much of this book was written by someone else, but that writer is never mentioned. But, Blake’s illustrations keep the feel of an all-Dahl book, and surely his illustrations must be considered classics. With humor, a timelessness and subtlety that works with both the funny and touching drawings, the illustrations alone are worth the time spent perusing these pages.

P.S. Roald Dahl’s website is pretty sweet, too.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

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