In Year 4, as part of a unit on Roald Dahl, our class wrote to the man himself. We included our own versions of Revolting Rhymes – about 28 of them, poor man. We packaged them up and sent them off and duly forgot about them, as nine-year-olds are wont to do.
Post wasn’t that fast between Australia and the U.K. in 1989, so it was probably a couple of months before a parcel arrived back from Buckinghamshire.
Well, we were THRILLED. I have a clear memory of some of the boys galloping about at the back of the classroom in glee, and many of the class were too excited to stay sat on their bottoms to listen to his return letter.
Perfectly pitched to nine-year-olds, as one would expect, the letter began, “Dear handsome Harvey and Year 4S.” The class roared. It was hilarious both to hear our teacher’s first name and have him described as handsome. Poor Mr Schiller graciously read that several times at his own expense until we had finished cackling and he could move on.
The wonderful Dahl had read all of our stories, had chosen a few favourites and sent some signed books for those aspiring writers.
I don’t remember the rest of the letter but I remember the thrill of an author taking the time to respond to children half a world away, and I remember the joy of reading his novels to myself, chuckling away at the naughty bits.
So when it came time to choose some chapter books to read with G Major, it was of course to Roald Dahl we turned.
We began with The Twits, and my goodness, what a joy to see her nose wrinkle in disgust at the description of Mr Twit’s beard, hear her hoot at the image of naked boy bottoms running away through the garden, see her eyes round as saucers as we read about Mugglewump the monkey and watch her turn upside down on the bed telling us she had The Shrinks.
We’ve now done James and George as well, and are midway through Charlie, and her enthusiasm continues. As does mine – it is just wonderful to share books across generations.
It’s fun to return to Dahl’s books as an adult, and I know that G Major will return to them again when she can read them to herself. And I’m just so excited for her.
What books do you like to read with your kids?