Category Archives: Roald Dahl

Secondary Character Saturday: Miss Honey

WHO: Miss Jennifer Honey

FROM: Matilda

Matilda (novel)

Matilda (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BY: Roald Dahl

PUBLISHED: 1988

PROS: Miss Honey is kind, inspirational, loving, gentle, mild-mannered, and protects the children in her charge.  She nurtures all the children to be their best, especially Matilda

Miss Jennifer Honey was a mild and quiet person who never raised her voice and was seldom seen to smile, but there is no doubt she possessed that rare gift for being adored by every small child under her care. [Matilda, Roald Dahl]

CONS: She needs to stand up for herself more. She lets Miss  Trunchbull bully and oppress her.

MOST SHINING MOMENT: Opening up to Matilda. Showing the little girl that it is OK to be different, and that every one has difficulties to overcome. She’s the prefect teacher and friend, and she is just what Matilda needs.

Embeth Davitz and Maura Wilson from the 2009 movie

Embeth Davidtz and Mara Wilson from the 2009 movie. [Image courtesy: Sony Pictures]

WHY I CHOSE THIS CHARACTER: I choose Miss Honey because my daughter, Maggie, suggested her. Matilda was one of our favorite books when she (Maggie) was growing up and I’ve enjoyed revisiting the characters today.  Maggie is studying to be a teacher and I’m sure she’ll bring all the empathy, joy of learning and teaching skills to her class room that Jennifer Honey brought to Matilda’s. (But here’s hoping that Maggie doesn’t have to deal with any Trunchbulls along the way.)

One of Quintin Blake's wonderful illustrations from the book.

One of Quintin Blake’s wonderful illustrations from the book.

Matilda was made into a movie  and then into a Broadway show.

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Top 100 Books proves that Jane Austen is the Teacher’s Pet

CLASS lets get reading…

TES (Think, Educate, Share) a website dedicated to bringing the latest teaching news and strategies to educators and the public asked 500 primary and secondary teachers what their top 10 books were. They crunched the numbers and came up with the following list of 100 top books.

It is an interesting list and it ranges nicely from early-ish chapter books — the kind that got us all hooked on reading in the first place, like Dahl and Lewis — to more mature novels like Atonement.

I was glad to see that my girl Jane made the grade (#1, 32, 52, 58). And you’ll recognize lots of other Thought of the Day authors on here too (I put them in italics — if you  are interested in reading the bioBlogs go to the search box to the right and type in their name.)

1. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

3. Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling

4. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte

5. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte

6. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

7. The Lord of the Rings (series) J.R.R. Tolkien

[Image courtesy Biography online

[Image courtesy Biography online

8. The Book Thief Markus Zusak9. The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien10. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald11. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini12. The Hunger Games (series) Suzanne Collins13. The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger

14. The Chronicles of Narnia (series) C.S. Lewis

15. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

16. Birdsong Sebastian Faulks

17. His Dark Materials (series) Philip Pullman

18. The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

19. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger

20. Life of Pi Yann Martel

21. Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy

22. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

23. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon

24. Lord of the Flies William Golding

25. Matilda Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).  Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left are: The BFG, Sophie, Dahl with his pups, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James, the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, and Matilda.

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake).

 

26. Catch-22 Joseph Heller

27. Millennium (series) Stieg Larsson

28. Animal Farm George Orwell

29. The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

30. Persuasion Jane Austen

31. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

32. Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael Morpurgo

33. Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

34. The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck

35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl

36. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas John Boyne

37. Little Women Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott

English: Bust of Louisa May Alcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38. One Day David Nicholls

39. We Need to Talk About Kevin Lionel Shriver

40. The Twits Roald Dahl

41. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

42. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini

43. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame

44. Frankenstein Mary Shelley

45. Great Expectations Charles Dickens

46. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres

47. George’s Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl

48. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams

douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guid...

douglas adams inspired “Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy” H2G2 http://www.hughes-photography.eu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

49. Room Emma Donoghue

50. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy

51. Atonement Ian McEwan

52. Emma Jane Austen

53. Middlemarch George Eliot

54. The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

55. The Color Purple Alice Walker

56. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle

57. Brave New World Aldous Huxley

58. Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen

59. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

60. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

61. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White

62. Dracula Bram Stoker

63. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

64. A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving

65. The Secret History Donna Tartt

66. The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Scanned drawing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

67. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoevsky

68. The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver

69. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy

70. Skellig David Almond

71. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins

72. Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell

73. Game of Thrones (series) George R.R. Martin

74. David Copperfield Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

75. Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro

76. Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

77. Twilight (series) Stephenie Meyer

78. Beloved Toni Morrison

79. The Help Kathryn Stockett

80. Sherlock Holmes (series) Arthur Conan Doyle

81. Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

82. Moneyball Michael Lewis

83. My Family and Other Animals Gerald Durrell

84. Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden

85. On the Road Jack Kerouac

86. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

87. Wild Swans Jung Chang

88. Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery

89. Les Miserables Victor Hugo

90. Room on the Broom Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

91. Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

92. Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

93. Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee

94. Danny the Champion of the World Roald Dahl

95. Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

96. The Magic Faraway Tree Enid Blyton

97. The Witches Roald Dahl

98. The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy

99. Holes Louis Sachar

100. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde.

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length portrait, facing front, seated, leaning forward, left elbow resting on knee, hand to chin, holding walking stick in right hand, wearing coat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So… what do you think? Did the teachers get an A+ for their list?  Are there any other books that you treasure that didn’t make the top 100?

If you were asked to list your top 10 books what would you include?


Thought of the Day 9.13.12 Roald Dahl

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

–Roald Dahl

My Roald Dahl collage featuring some of his most popular characters (as drawn by the amazing Quentin Blake). Surrounding Mr. Dahl and his pups are: at the top left The BFG & Sophie, The Enormous Crocodile, Mr. Fox, James (inside the Peach,) the Grand High Witch, Willy Wonka, Danny (Champion of the World) and Matilda.

[I gave a little inward squeak of delight when I saw that it was Roald Dahl’s birthday today. I can’t think of a better way to spend a few hours than to reminisce with my old friends Charlie, Matilda, Sophie, James and the rest. What joy!]

Roald Dahl was born on this day in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales, in 1916. Today is the 96th anniversary of this birth.

Although Dahl grew up in Wales his parents were from Norway and the family spoke Norwegian at home. His older sister, Astrid, and his father,Harald, died within weeks of each other when Roald was a toddler. Sophie, his mother, was pressured to bring the family home and live with relatives, but she knew Harald had wanted the children to have a proper English education. So she split the difference.  Summers were spent visiting relatives across the North Sea. Roald and his sisters enjoyed long, sun drenched days on the water and beaches of the Norwegian coast and the family visited with their grandparents in Oslo.

Roald Dahl aged 8. [Image courtesy: The Telegraph]

It was a lovely break for the dreary days at English public school that Dahl described as  being filled with “rules, rules and still more rules to be obeyed.”  His biography Boy: Tales Childhooddetails his exploits, dramas, and adventures growing up… like the time he mixed goat droppings into his older sister’s fiance’s pipe tobacco or the when he and his friend were given Cadbury chocolate samples to taste test at school.

After school Roald wanted adventure…

Though not a good student, his mother nevertheless offered him the option of attending Oxford or Cambridge University …. His reply, …was, “No, thank you. I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China.”…Dahl took a position with the Shell Oil Company in Tanganyika (now Tanzania)

He worked for Shell in Mombasa, Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika and had a famous encounter with a black mamba and some lions. At the outbreak of WWII Dahl joined the British Royal Air Force as a pilot — not an easy thing for him to do as he was 6’6″ and the open cockpit of his De Havilland Tiger Moth was built for men who were considerably smaller.  His head stuck up above the windshield.

Dahl in his RAF uniform. [Image Courtesy: Mail Online]

In September 1940 while flying the last leg of a trip across the top of Africa he found himself  running out fuel and was lost. He couldn’t find the target airstrip near Mersa Matruh, Egypt, and had to make a desert landing. He cracked his skull, broke his nose, and was temporarily blinded in the crash. When he woke up he found out that the coordinates he’d been given for the airstrip had been all wrong. HQ had sent him by mistake into a no man’s land between Allied and Axis forces.

He flew other missions — bravely flying with the 80th Squadron  in the Greek Campaign. He described the “Battle of Athens” as “an endless blur of enemy fighters whizzing towards me from every side.” [Going Solo, Scholastic] After that he was sent back to Egypt and flew sorties over the Mediterranean against Vichy France, but he’d begun to have severe headaches — a result of the earlier crash. When the headaches got so bad that he began to black out he was grounded.  He writes about his adventures in Africa and in the War in his second, equally wonderful biography, Going Solo.

Dahl was sent to Washington DC as an assistant air attaché. While in Washington he stepped briefly into the role of a spy. He passed information to MI6 and worked on propoganda to promote the British agenda within the US. It was in DC that he began to write. The Saturday Evening Post published his first piece, “A Piece of Cake” (which it retitled to the more sensational, if less accurate “Shot Down Over Libya,”) in 1942. He also wrote his first book, a novel for adults about  the mythical creatures gremlins. Walt Disney optioned the story for a potential animated film.

The Gremlins is the story of Gus, a British World War II fighter pilot, who during the Battle of Britain turned to look out on the wing of his plane only to see an amazing sight: a little man, no more than six inches tall with horns growing from his head, drilling a hole in the plane’s wing. [Amazon.com]

Although the film was never made a companion book was released on a limited run. The book was re-released in 2006. (The classic Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is an homage to the story.)

Dahl in 1954 [Image Courtesy Wikipedia]

He began to write for children when his own family came along. ( He was married to actress Patricia Neal and had five children with her.)

…Dahl began making up stories for them each night before they went to bed. These stories became the basis for his career as a children’s writer, which began seriously with the publication of James and the Giant Peach in 1961. …Dahl insisted that having to invent stories night after night was perfect practice for his trade… [Roald Dahl Biography]

His other childrens’ books include: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 1964; The Fantastic Mr. Fox 1970, Danny, the Champion of the World 1975;  The BFG 1982; The Witches 1983;  Matilda 1988 and others. He also wrote books of verse for children including the hilarious Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts.  Most of his books have nasty adults who mistreat children, those adults do not fare well in the end. The justification that “Beastly people must be punished,” made Dahl very popular with children of all ages.

Neal and Dahl prior to their marriage. [HubPages.com]

He wrote fiction for adults as well, though it is much more difficult to find. Roald Dahl: Collected Stories is a good place to start and it contains dozens of the writer’s short stories. As does The Best of Roald Dahl.

“Dahl has the mastery of plot and characters possessed by great writers of the past, along with the wildness and wryness of his own. One of his trademarks is writing beautifully about the ugly, even the horrible.” [– The Los Angeles Times on the back of The Best of Roald Dahl]

He also wrote screen plays. He wrote a full script for The Gremlins for Disney, as well as the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)– that creepy child catcher  who trolls the streets of Vulgaria with his candy festooned wagon is 100% Dahl– and the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.  For the small screen he penned  6 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents  and several other suspense shows.

Dahl died at the age of 74 from Leukemia.

[Image courtesy: Wikipedia]


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