Introduction to Author Study:
As part of our Children’s Literature class, we are to complete an author study on one of many children’s literature authors. I was not an avid reader when I was younger, but when I did read books, a portion of them came from “literary genius” Roald Dahl. I was excited to learn more about Roald Dahl since I had the pleasure of reading and re-reading several of his children’s books; those you will see in my Annotated Bibliography. I even discovered two cookbooks based on his vividly creative food choices described in many of his books. At the end of the study, we are to create activities that go along with the books of our chosen author. With his classic books turning into movies; “Matilda,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” etc., we learn more about Dahl’s successes and his underlying messages in all his children’s literature. I hope you enjoy learning about Roald Dahl as much as I enjoyed learning more about him and immersing myself in his wonderful children’s literature.
On September 13th, 1916, in Llandaff, Wales, Roald Dahl was born of Norwegian parents. During his childhood, he lost his father at three years old, but referred to him in his book “Boy.” It was only his mother who took care of him; Roald was her only son. He remembered and loved his mother so well; he made a tribute to her in his book “The Witches.” His mother told great tales of Norwegian creatures, which enhanced his love for stories and books at a young age.
School made Dahl unhappy, but his good times, addressed in his autobiography, “Boy,” linked to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” At boarding school is where he met the all-powerful Matron, a character he portrayed as “Mrs. Trunchball” in “Matilda.” His unhappy times in school greatly influenced his writing.
After schooling, World War II broke out and he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. In Dahl’s autobiography, “Going Solo,” he depicts his life during the war.
In 1942, the start of Dahl’s writing career became apparent. His first children’s book, a picture book, was “The Gremlins,” not “James and the Giant Peach,” as the common misconception. It was not until the 1960’s when Dahl’s career as a children’s book author began, after he became a father and wrote short stories for adults.
Dahl’s first 15 years in his writing career was for adults. His first “story” was “A Piece of Cake,” which was written for the Saturday Evening Post; which he wrote frequently for and many other magazines. Dahl won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America three times for his adult writing.
While Dahl wrote for adults, he is most famous, of course, for being a children’s author, which he is more pleased of with his accomplishments. His book “James and the Giant Peach;” published in 1961, came about from his frequent bedtime story-telling for his daughters. His second book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” became a quick success, even releasing a movie based off of the book. From notes of David Gritten, he describes Dahl’s books as “strong on plot and instilled with a tremendous sense of mischief, insist on seeing the world through children’s eyes, and often portray adults as silly, uncomprehending or insensitive; no wonder kids love them.” Dahl became incredibly successful throughout the world, writing more than a dozen children’s books. His books represent modern fairy tales where powerless children triumph over evil adults.
In 1990, unfortunately Dahl was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder which caused him to die on November 23rd at 74 years old. Even though he is now gone, his advocacy for reading and popularity of books still continues to grow throughout the world.
http://www.roalddahlmuseum.org/ - The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is an award-winning and family-friendly Museum with fun and fact-packed galleries all celebrating Roald Dahl and his great works. Here is a video trailer of the museum:
http://www.roalddahlfans.com/index.php - Are you a fan of Roald Dahl? So are the creators of this site. “This website is devoted to both types of his writing and features resources for everyone from young readers to school teachers to older devotees.”