Author Study

By Alyssa Groth

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Biographical Information

Roald Dahl was born in Wales on September 13, 1916. He had a very eventful life with many jobs including an author, a poet, a screenwriter, and he even served as a fighter pilot during WWII. He has always had a love of writing, and published his first book, The Gremlins, in 1943. Since then he has written over 30 books, and done 5 screenplays. Dahl died at the age of 74 on November 23, 1990.

"How does he get his ideas?"

In this interview with Dahl, he describes how he gets his ideas for stores. He says, "...it's a little seed of an idea that doesn’t come around very easily..."


"What advice does the author have for young writers?"

On Roald Dahl's website, he has a list of seven writing tips. Below are some examples that he includes:

  1. "You should have a lively imagination."
  2. "You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader's mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift and you either have it or you don't."
  3. "You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month."

Bibliographical Information

Number of Books Written:
34 books from 1943 through 1991

Book List in Chronological Order of Date Published:
The Gremlins (1943)
Over To You (1946)
Some Time Never (1948)
Someone Like You (1953)
Kiss Kiss (1960)
James and the Giant Peach (1961)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
The Magic Finger (1966)
Fantastic Mr Fox (1968)
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (1972)
Switch Bitch (1974)
Danny, the Champion of the World (1975)
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More (1977)
The Enormous Crocodile (1978)
My Uncle Oswald (1979)
The Twits (1980)
George's Marvellous Medicine (1981)
Revolting Rhymes (1982)
The BFG (1982)
Dirty Beasts (1983)
The Witches (1983)
Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories (1983)
Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984)
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me (1985)
Two Fables (1985)
Going Solo (1986)
Matilda (1988)
Rhyme Stew (1989)
Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life (1989)
Esio Trot (1990)
The Vicar of Nibbleswicke (1991)
The Minpins (1991)
Roald Dahl's Guide to Railway Safety (1991)
My Year (1991)

Genres of His Books:
Fiction


Targeted Audience:
Children and young adults

Selected Book Reviews

Matilda Review:

http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2013/aug/31/review-matilda-roald-dahl


James and the Giant Peach Review:

http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk/Roald-Dahl/James-and-the-Giant-Peach.html


George's Marvelous Medicine Review:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/74532.George_s_Marvellous_Medicine?from_search=true&search_version=service


Overall, people had very high ratings for Dahl's Books (4/5 stars, etc.) People seem to enjoy his work, and realize that he is a very influential person in the world of children's literature.

Public’s Reception of Books and Popularity:
Many of his books have become widely popular and some were even made into movies (ex: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda)

Analysis of the Author

Contributions to Children’s Literature:

Many of his books are popular among children, and have also become classic movies, i.e. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. People know these stories, even if they don't necessarily know Roald Dahl. His stories have become a beloved part of children's literature.


Dahl has won many awards for his books including:

  • Federation of Children's Book Groups Award UK, 1982
  • World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, 1983
  • CableACE Award for International Children's Programming Special or Series, 1993

And many more!


Themes of Author’s Books Supported by Specific Examples:

The majority of his books have a theme of fantasy or fiction. For example in the BFG, the giant collects dreams in bottles for children, unlike the other mean giants who eat the humans. Also in James and the Giant Peach, there is a humungous peach that grows larger than a house, and James crawls inside and greets many insect friends. They cut the peach from the tree and escape James' aunts, and cross the entire Atlantic Ocean and finally arrive in New York after a crazy journey.


Analysis of Author’s Style of Writing:

Dahl's style of writing is very unique. In some books such as the BFG, the characters have their own language (called 'gobblefunk'). He creates very imaginative worlds within his books which is very captivating for young readers.

Curriculum Connections

There are so many ways to learn more about Roald Dahl's work! Here are just a few fun ways to do so.


1. Movies:

To easily learn about Roald Dahl's most popular books, you can watch the movies based on his stories. The most popular ones include Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.


2. Roald Dahl's Museum:

There are many outside ways to learn more about Roald Dahl's works. If you are a teacher in England, you can also plan a trip to the Roald Dahl Museum for your class where they can create their won Wonka Bars, go to the Inventing Room, and so much more!


3. Class Activites for Teachers and Educators:

Also, on his website, there are tons of class activities that have a book for its theme. For example, when teaching about creative writing, you can refer to the 'Something Nasty in the Lifts' activity (with the theme coming from Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator). This activity has the teacher read an excerpt from the book, and the children have to describe and draw what they are imagining. This would be great to use with young children because it is a combination of art, writing, imagination, and learning all at the same time.

(Link to the lesson activity: http://www.roalddahl.com/docs/Lesson1Charlieandthe_1436786237.pdf )


4. Recipes:

An additional feature Roald Dahl has on his website are recipes that tie into his books. One item you can make are the Fizzy Lifting Drinks from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (see below for the recipe to try!)

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