Hazel has been devouring Roald Dahl books since we got here. I bought her the box set for her 1/2 birthday present - yes, my kids get one half birthday present, usually it’s a piece of candy or something dinky like that, but this year for some reason I succumbed to Hazel’s begging and got her a box set from a book fair. And I’m so glad I did. They were just the spark she needed to catch her reading on fire. She reads them to Charlie and Emmeline, she stays up too late hiding under her covers turning pages, she laughs out loud and I think one or two have even made here teary. She started out with the skinny books, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Magic Finger and progressed through to the fat ones. You should have seen the delight in her face when she finished The Witches. She was so proud of herself that she had such a ‘fat’ book under her belt. She told me, “Mom, now I believe I can read anything!” And really, she pretty much can.
I love Roald Dahl. I love his imagination, his humor, his philosophies and morals sneaking their way into readers’ minds through amusing and captivating stories. I love how quirky he is, in fact, I think the quirkiness of his stories is what draws Hazel in. She is a pretty quirky girl herself. Mostly I love that he has drawn Hazel into the world of books—given her confidence, shown her the beauty of adventures hiding in the pages of books.
One day during spring break Amy and I loaded up the kids and took them out west of London to Roald Dahl’s town, Great Missenden, to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Center. Everyone was so excited (all the kids say he is their favorite author).
It’s a small little museum and we loved it. When you buy your tickets they give you your own little story idea book (Dahl always kept one with him) and as you go through the museum you write down your own story ideas. We measured ourselves against the Gremlins and Twits and the BFG on the big measuring stick, we sat in Roald’s chair, we learned about his life, we listened to his stories. We were all entertained and inspired.
The little town of Great Missenden is speckled with places that Dahl used as inspiration for various parts of his stories. The ‘Crown House’ above was Dahls inspiration for Sophia’s ‘norphanage’ in the BFG. Below is the Great Missenden Library, where surely Matilda visited to collect all those books she read.
Hazel says I’m sometimes a sparky parent, sometimes a stodgy parent. I think she’s right. The spark-o-meter said I was pretty sparky. I want to be more sparky than stodgy, don’t you?