Sure, there are those beautiful fall days with high, clear blue skies that set off the colors of the trees and just make your heart sing.
Roald Dahl would be wasted on those days.
And anyway, if we have any of those days left, PUT YOUR BOOKS DOWN AND GO OUTSIDE!
When I mention Roald Dahl in the fall, I am talking about the days when the dry leaves swirl up into the air and the wind whistles at the windows. When darkness comes much earlier than you hoped and a chill gets in your bones. If you feel the impending sense of doom that is the coming of winter, that is the time to pull out Roald Dahl.
Roald Dahl is the master of the dark and disturbing. His stories for children (and their parents) combine an amazing sense of humor – think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – and an uncanny knack for facing childhood fears head on.
He is quirky, creepy, silly, scary, wry, righteous, and at all times, brilliant.
Just perfect for this time of year.
Today, dark clouds hung overhead all day. It was so gloomy. A perfect day for Matilda. Matilda battles gloom with a perky goodness that belies her situation as she contends with Ms. Trunchbull, the evil headmistress of Crunchem Hall School. There is nothing like a brave heroine in a truly terrible situation. The gloom outside helps heighten the mood, and then the book itself raises your spirits and leaves you cheering. I could have used a spot of that today!
If the weather turns truly horrible, I mean stormy, gusty, really dark, I intend to drop what I am doing and read Witches. Witches can be soooo scary… and fun. Dahl lets you know right off, “This is not a fairy tale.”
This is the story of a boy, who fears witches above all else, and finds himself on vacation in the middle of a WITCH CONVENTION!!! And the witches, they are not clichés of witches, they are nasty, creepy, hateful beings disguised as average, ordinary women. “That is why they are so hard to catch!”
If I am lucky, thunder and lightning will boom overhead and I won’t be able to put it down.
A slightly less scary story is James and the Giant Peach. This story of the boy who escapes from his evil aunts, Spiker and Sponge, is filled with good friends and funny personalities. But there are some terrifying mishaps along the way, and, of course, the constant sense of foreboding surrounding the reappearance of the aunts. It’s still Roald Dahl, after all.
Dahl has a knack for creating child heroines that you love with tenderness; orphans, the lonely, the neglected, and the scared. He pairs them up with someone they (and you) can trust, and then challenges them to overcome their fears. Though the antagonists are certainly creepy, imposing and always absurd, you can rest assured that good will prevail, and a child will find his true strength in the process.
Of course, Dahl doesn’t need any help setting the mood. He is an expert at foreboding, after all. But if you read him on these darkening days of fall you meet him half way and its all the more fun.