When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I thought I'd revisit that story recently to see if I liked it just as much now as I did then. I listened to the Roald Dahl collection on CD, read by the author, and it had not only Charlie, but also James & the Giant Peach, a few short stories and one of my new favorites.... Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The book version, shown here, is great, too - it's illustrated by Quentin Blake in a very whimsical way that suits the story well. And the story, in a nutshell, is that Mr. Fox loves to get chickens and turkeys and ducks from three local farmers for the daily Fox family meals. The farmers, the mean Boggis, Bunce & Bean, know that Mr. Fox is stealing from them and they decide to do something about it. Mr. Fox & his family are on the run from the farmers' guns and shovels and tractors and backhoes. But Mr. Fox is truly fantastic & comes up with a plan that outsmarts the farmers once and for all!
I don't think I ever read this story as a child, and I wish I had because I'd like to see it through a child's eyes & imagination. I think I might have been a little scared by the farmers - there is much discussion on all the violent things they want to do with Mr. Fox's tail, body, his head, etc. Because of that, I won't yet be reading it to my own kids, but when they are a bit older, I think it'll be appropriate.
However, reading it for the first time as an adult had its advantages. I can appreciate the pickle the Fox family was in & can empathize with the parents. Food, shelter, safety are all things that we have to ensure for our children. You can also appreciate Mr. Fox's long term plan - use a little restraint now & the goods will be there for the taking long term. I think kids will understand these things, too - but it's just a different perspective when you read it as an adult.
One side note, I just love the interactions between Mr. Fox & Badger. Badger calls him Foxy and even tells him he loves him (page 60 of my version). Their friendship is very sweet & charming - the original bromance!
Even though the story is short, we really get to know this great character, Mr. Fox. He's confident, smart, caring, charismatic & a real leader. George Clooney was definitely the perfect choice to voice the character in the recent movie (which I thought was great, too - very quirky & fun).
You might be wondering, did I still enjoy Charlie & the Chocolate Factory after all these years? Yes I did. But I am also thrilled to have found a new favorite which is indeed fantastic!