The Witches by Roald Dahl:
I paused before I began reading The Witches to the Bachsters recently and told them that we are very fortunate: here we had a Roald Dahl book that we've never read before. Since there are a finite number of them, getting to experience one for the first time is a real treat.
I loved Roald Dahl books when I was a kid (my favorite was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and I'm so pleased that the Bachsters love his books, and that we can share the experience of reading them together.
I'd never read The Witches before. I can imagine how much fun Mr. Dahl had while writing it, with all the "v" for "w" vords that the Grand High Witch speaks, and her rolling r's (which I just couldn't do justice). This book just begs to be read aloud.
In the story, a little boy and his Grandmamma, who knows all about witches, happen upon the biggest gathering of witches in all of England. The little boy (we never learn his name) finds out about their mission to turn all the children of England into mice and he and his grandmother make a plan to give the vitches a taste of their own medicine.
We all loved this book, but a few of the pictures of the Grand High Witch were too scary for the Bachsters, which I think made it a little more fun for them.
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl:
In this novella, Mr. Hoppy, a shy, elderly man, lives in the same apartment complex as Mrs. Silver, just one floor above hers. Mr. Hoppy desperately wants to strike up conversation with Mrs. Silver, but he just can't bring himself to do it. One day, he gets an idea that will make him appear to be a hero Mrs. Silver: he will share with her the secret for helping her tortoise, Alfie, grow. This secret of his involves reciting a poem backwards on her part, and amassing tortoises of all sizes from all of the city's pet shops, on his part.
This story is a nice departure from Roald Dahl's usual style: there are no mean grown ups, no one gets what they have coming to them. It's really a simple, sweet story of longing for someone and the lengths that we will go to get them.
I couldn't help but be reminded of the Cynthia Rylant series about Mr. Putter and Tabby, and their neighbors Mrs. Teaberry and Zeke. Their relationship is simply a friendship, but it's still about an elderly pair and their pets.
Very Fond of Food: A Year in Recipes by Sophie Dahl:
In fairness, this one is an honorable mention because I've only scratched the surface of this lovely cookbook, and I have yet to try any of the recipes. But I was intrigued to check out this book: this is Sophie Dahl, Roald Dahl's granddaughter. He named the character Sophie (in The BFG - one of our favorites) after her.
There are tons of great recipes in this book, organized by season. Ms. Dahl gives a little intro to each chapter and recipe, which I've really enjoyed. I liked her story about her grandmother's chicken recipe - when she called her on the phone to ask her what was in it, her grandmother replied, I don't know baby. Chicken! Little stories like this dot the pages, making this a fun book to read, let alone a collection of recipes. And I really love the photography throughout: many of the recipes (not all) have a photo to accompany it & the look is casual British. And there are some photos of the author throughout as well, and she seems like a very sweet person.
I can't help but wonder if the shared love the Bachsters and I have for Roald Dahl stories will one day morph into a shared love for Sophie Dahl's recipes. Instead of reading bedtime stories together, maybe one day we'll be cooking up some scrumptious meal in the kitchen together (like the rice pudding cake - yum). Regardless, we have a lot to thank the talented Dahl family for.