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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the first Roald Dahl book that I've ever read. I'm ashamed to say I made it to adulthood before I even realized that his first name wasn't actually "Ronald." But it's better late than never, isn't it?

I'll also admit that, having seen Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory as a child, it is difficult to mentally separate this story from Gene Wilder's magical portrayal of Wonka (I've heard some say that Depp was closer to the book, personality-wise, but I didn't see that version).

All the same, the song "Pure Imagination" captures this story quite aptly. What child has not fantasized about everlasting candy? This made "the chocolate room" all the more magical to me, as I absolutely used to fantasize about a natural world in which everything was made of different kinds of sweets. That as well as the boat on the chocolate river, and the great glass elevator, were the most memorable parts for me.

One aspect that I found interesting was the different treatment of Charlie in the movie vs. the book. In this book, Charlie is completely good and his fellow golden-ticket-holders are completely bad. There is no question of who the hero is because it's spelled out clearly from the beginning. Whereas, the movie apparently attempted to humanize Charlie by having him do a bad thing too.

I think that's why one thing that struck me about the book was how moralizing it came across, even underneath all the absurdity (at times reminding me of Hilaire Belloc's "cautionary" tales, minus the death of course). I have no problem with "good vs. evil" narratives; I suppose this just stands out more because I've become used to narratives that are more likely to portray complex heroes and villains. But I think the fantasy elements of the story made the fairly one-dimensional characters less problematic. 

On another note, I am certain that J.K. Rowling must have been influenced by this story. Not only is there a "Slugworth" (minor character) here, but some of the goofier candy inventions remind me quite a bit of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.

Format: Paperback
Author: Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Pages: 155
Content Advisory: Some perilous and sad situations.

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