Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I have not been a fan of Roald Dahl since I read James and the Giant Peach. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember that he was very disrespectful to authority and James, the main character, ran over an aunt or grandmother with the peach and killed her. It was a happy occasion in the book. Something did not sit well with me on that one.

But, I was going through my son’s bookshelf the other day and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I had never read it.

Surprisingly the movie Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is very close to the text of the book. Some of the dialog is different, but the events are similar. There are only three glaring differences between the book and the movie (that I can remember). I have not seen the movie in maybe 20 years, so I may not remember too well.

The differences are that the spoiled girl in the book is taken out by squirrels, where in the movie she is done in by geese. Charlie and Grandpa Joe do not get involved with the bubbly stuff that makes them stick to the ceiling in the book. The movie makes a whole scene of this, the book just mentions the substance. The third difference is just the way the story culminates. It ends more abruptly in the movie version than it does in the book. Also there is a bit of a twist in the movie that is just a straightforward set of events in the book.

I thought it was certainly well written. It held my interest better than most books. I can see why it is popular among young teens. My son (9 years old for 1 more week) would love the humor and naughtiness of the children. Though Dahl is still disrespectful to others, it is more on a peer level instead of children to adults. Where there is disrespect to authority, the offender is reprimanded or punished. In James and the Giant Peach the disrespect is applauded.

I cannot recommend James and the Giant Peach to a child for reading, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory seems harmless enough.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dhal, (the one I have) Bantam Books, 1984, 160 pages.

One thought on “Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

  1. I really like the 1971 movie version, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. It does have some life lessons about honesty and forgiveness… plus there is lots and lots of chocolate. Although, there are some subliminal hallucinogenic drug references in the movie (it’s filmed in the early 1970s – go figure) but I don’t think the kids get it.

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