Monday, August 8, 2011

12 Books in 12 Months: A Book You Have Re-Read More Than Once...and Just Read Again

Book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Author: Roald Dahl

Image via wikia

If this is not my favorite book, it's definitely in my top 5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the one book I actually made a ritual of re-reading. It was, for many years, a part of Christmas break for me. It is the perfect modernistic fairy tale: vivid characters, playful language, a compelling narrative and everyone gets what they deserve.


On the off chance you haven't read this book, please skip this part. I'm not really spoiling much but I'd hate to undermine the magic for you. My two favorite parts of the book:

1. The two chapter stretch in which Charlie finds the dollar in the street, then the golden ticket in candy bar #2. Dahl built up a very clear sense of Bucket family squalor to the point where even we the readers are more concerned about Charlie starving to death than finding a Wonka ticket. I also love the way the shopkeeper looks out for him once he wins the ticket.

2. While riding down the chocolate river, Wonka scoops up two mugs for Charlie and Grandpa Joe. In a story filled with fantastic wonders, this simple gesture of human compassion really stands out for me.


Charlie is the sort of book which inevitably inspires films, candy brands, merchandise, etc. I had already read the book many times before I finally saw the 1971 Gene Wilder movie. I really didn't like the film as it didn't follow the book very well. Dahl disowned the film, thus the change in title. I've grown to appreciate the movie for its own sake but I do feel the 2005 Johnny Depp version was more faithful to the book.

Charlie is also a book that begs to be read allowed. After I finished reading it for myself this past week, my daughter requested I read it to her. It's a re-read for her as well.

Okay, the easier books on my list are finished. Now, the heavy lifting begins...


I hope that you, too, will join the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Details are here.

If you'd care to join the challenge, please let me know by commenting below or e-mailing me at Also, please tell me how and where I can follow your posts. Don't be shy about suggesting other categories, either. It is my intention to compile a new list of 12 once this one is completed. My only parameter is that no one should have to buy anything in order to complete the challenge - nothing beyond a library card required.


  1. Great choice! I think I last read this when I was a kid...time for a re-read.

  2. I have my first 12 books in 12 months book to tell you about. I just finished rereading it last night. 'Stargirl,' by Jerry Spinelli. But first this,

    '2. While riding down the chocolate river, Wonka scoops up two mugs for Charlie and Grandpa Joe. In a story filled with fantastic wonders, this simple gesture of human compassion really stands out for me.'

    This is why I asked for your opinion on MM. You are a collector of secret gems in plain sight.

    And this, I didn't realize Dahl had disowned the 1971 adaptation. What I loved about the film was Gene Wilder and the boy who played Charlie Bucket. Having not read the book -- hangs head -- I didn't realize just how divergent it was from its literary template.

    Now. Here is what I plan to do. I will tell you about my 12 books in the comments of each of your posts. Sound good? Well, I'm going to do it in any event.


    I picked it up on Wednesday night just as my family and I were going into our extended holiday weekend. It was a cozy, pajamaed affair in which the three of us stayed home (scrap of heaven.) Over the course of the holiday, I picked up the book and read a handful of chapters here, another there, and, last night when I finished it, felt very sad. I was sad that my stay in Mica, Arizona had drawn to a close. The book was at its best for me this third time around. I had read it once to myself, once out loud to my husband on a road trip before we had our daughter and this past weekend.

    The book is about a teenaged girl who is nonconformist but not in an abrasive way. She simply has no ego. Everything about her flows outward to others and, in the unforgiving fish bowl of the high school environment in which deviations of the norm are punished by tragic degrees of censure, Stargirl holds up a mirror to a provincial group of kids who simply don't know what to make of such aberrant, if lovely, expressions of unselfconscious individuality. She wasn't trying to be different to make a statement, the labor came, actually, when she tried for the sake of the narrator to be the same as everyone else.

    A word on the narrator -- Leo Borlock. I loved being in his head. He was an observer in the extreme and nothing quite brings out the delectable shading of a silent, seeing mind than something -- in this case, someone -- worth observing. Stargirl brought out in reticent, spotlight-shunning Leo whole universes which would have remain untapped were it not for her infectious appreciation of enchanted places, fillers in newspapers, the magic crevices lit up by the silver light of a wise moon. His honest, simply-rendered struggle to reconcile his love for a girl so trenchantly different and the approval of 'them' -- a frightened, threatened monolith manifesting as a student body -- had my heart strings taut for the duration.

    I loved this book.

    1. Congratulations! I'll add it to the list - sounds like an inspiring book.

      I'm amazed you've never read "Charlie"! For me, it's the story that will never grow old. I've loved sharing it with my daughter and look forward to passing it on to the next generation, too.

    2. Grandaddy Squid. Awesome. :)

    3. As Our Girl outgrows things, I do keep an eye out for what's worth keeping. I figure most things that survive one generation will last for another.