Monday 23 September 2013

George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl (Puffin Books)

George's Marvellous Medicine

Written by Roald Dahl

Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Published by Puffin Books

When is the right time to start your child on chapter books or early more-heavily-text-based books? Simple answer is that there is no right answer to this, but we've been delving into chapter readers for Charlotte for some time (my wife loves reading Paula Harrison's "Rescue Princess" books to Charlotte, chipping away at them a bit at a time as we share bedtime reading duties).

We have read and re-read several Roald Dahl books but "George's Marvellous Medicine" seems to be a firm favourite with Charlotte. A lot of that probably has a bit to do with the two main characters.

George is a fairly ordinary everyday boy, but with a rather horrid old grandmother. She's not cuddly, she's not kind (not at all like Charlotte's Grandma, Nanny or Grand-Mo!) and to be honest her chin is a little bit too whiskery and her teeth a little bit too brown for George to want to get too close anyway.

She treats George horribly as soon as his parents step out for the day, so George decides that enough is enough.

Something. Must. Be. Done!

Now, children and adults will of course pay heed to the very first words in the book which tell you NOT to try what George tries at home. No way, not under any circumstances. George, you see, decides to whip up a batch of medicine for Grandma to replace the foul stuff she drinks every day (which does her no good at all, certainly doesn't make her any less unpleasant!)

Scouring the house, the shed, the garage, just about everywhere he can, George is soon mixing any liquids or powders he can find in an old saucepan.

George must be careful though, because Grandma is suspicious and always pestering, so things have to be mixed just right!

We don't want to ruin the book for you - but the effects on Grandma are quite hilarious. George doesn't just stop there though, oh no! He starts seeing how his medicine will affect other things too (poor chickens!)

Part of the reason I get a bit 'grumpy' when you see other writers being hailed at "The Next Roald Dahl" is simply because there really isn't anyone who can fit into his BFG-sized shoes when it comes to writing stories that will enthral children to the point where they hang on ever word you read. There really isn't anyone who can write stories that are a joy to read aloud and perform (I had a huge amount of fun voicing "Granny" with this - a voice like a cross between a scratchy old witch and Warwick Davis for some reason!)

Dahl was one of a kind, always will be - and though there will undoubtedly be other writers (particularly David Walliams) who take their inspiration from the story master himself, they won't quite capture the delicious essence of devilry, or the empowerment Dahl bestows on his child characters (who are, let's face it, a fairly hard-done-by lot most of the time).

Charlotte's best bit: OWEEEEE!

Daddy's Favourite bit: It's almost impossible to pick a favourite 'Dahl' book but this is nigh-on perfect, and has all the brilliant trademark Dahl-isms you've come to expect from such a masterful children's storyteller.