The fantastic Mr. Dahl

On July 7, Lynn blogged about New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof’s controversial column on must-read children’s books. Also on July 7, Kristof posted an acknowledgement of the huge reader response he received; more than 2,350 people commented on his list.

(For those who weren’t following the debate, Kristof posted a list of the “best kids’ books ever” and neglected to mention many wonderful authors. Personally, I was aghast that Laura Ingalls Wilder got the shaft.)

In his apologetic response, Kristof wrote, “As many readers pointed out, Roald Dahl really should have had a place on the list. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a pinnacle of literature, a bit ahead of Proust.”

Roald Dahl

Ah, Roald Dahl. How many of us have worn copies of Matilda, or James and the Giant Peach, or The BFG on our bookshelves?

As a huge Dahl fan, I was interested to read Wednesday’s headline from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper: “Roald Dahl proves a man of a great many letters for his biographer.” Apparently Donald Sturrock, a British documentary filmmaker and friend of the Dahl family, was set to finalize an authorized biography of the beloved author when he found an unexpected source: over 300 letters between Roald Dahl and his best friend, Charles Marsh. In order for Sturrock to have time to factor in the new information (“everything from politics and illness to sex, marriage and why he started writing,” says the Telegraph), the biography’s publication date has been delayed until September 2010. Sturrock won’t reveal how he got the letters.

The new 'Boy'

The new 'Boy'

There is, however, something to look forward to in the near future: Farrar, Straus and Giroux will release More About Boy: Roald Dahl’s Tales from Childhood in September, just days before what would have been the author’s 93rd birthday (September 13). The publisher promises that this addendum to Dahl’s classic autobiography, Boy, is a “special keepsake hardcover edition” with “some of the secrets that were left out” from the original. Can’t wait!

Simon & Schuster’s The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington comes out in paperback on September 8. (Read BookPage’s review here.)

And of course, the movie version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, featuring the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep, is coming November 13. Click here to watch the trailer.

If you could discover a secret collection of letters from an author, who would it be?

To continue the reminiscing . . . does anyone have a favorite character, book or film adaptation from Dahl’s wacky universe?

—Eliza Borné

4 Responses to The fantastic Mr. Dahl

  1. Meryl says:

    The trailer looks great – thanks for posting it. A secret collection of letters? Hmmm . . . my own from when I fell in love with my husband. Our letters and cards back and forth, private and lovely. But those are safely tucked away. :)M

  2. Trisha says:

    I’m a huge Roald Dahl fan. Interested in seeing his letters, but if they’d discovered a manuscript, it would have been even better!

    Meryl, that’s so sweet. Letters are much more romantic than today’s email records.

  3. JS Huntlands says:

    Set in today’s day and time, Me and My Best Friend is about a young boy, his faithful companion and their exciting adventures.

    Henry and Liam are the best of friends and they do everything together. They can run and play all day long. But when Henry the puppy gets tired and tries to take a nap, three-year-old Liam keeps waking him, wanting him to play some more. Will Henry get any rest?

    Get your children involved with this beautifully illustrated book. Your child will love to match up words and pictures, and find Liam, who keeps hiding in his bedroom. Perfect for the young reader!

    About the Author

    J.S. Huntlands is the author of Nick Twisted Minds and is currently working on more books in this series, as well as 23 more books in the Me and My Best Friend series. Huntlands is a full-time writer, as well as a mom to a wonderful four-year-old boy. This book is dedicated to her son in hopes that he never forgets his best friend.

  4. […] also discusses the popularity of Roald Dahl (whom we blogged about in August). In his books, “there is an element of mystery and some darkness – but it’s real,” he […]

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