Boy by Roald Dahl:
You've probably noticed that I just love Roald Dahl. I've written about many of his books here on Book Nook & I think I've read just about all of them. But, I had never read Boy, Dahl's account of a few exciting events when he was a child. I'm not sure what took me so long, but I'm so glad I finally picked up the book. Dahl is the same engaging storyteller here as he is in his fictitious tales for children.
The book covers a bit about his parents when they were young and starting out. His main focus of the book, however, are the experiences he had as a young boy in school. These range from happy memories (like the math teacher who preferred to work out crossword puzzles on the chalkboard instead of actual math problems) to the horrible (the times he received a caning from the Headmaster). Every summer, Dahl and his large family would travel to Norway and spend the summers visiting family and cruising around the fjords.
When you read a Roald Dahl book, it's hard to miss the author's skill in telling a good tale - this one is no exception. I was totally engaged in his story about The Great Mouse Plot, and the drive in the motorcar that led to Dahl's nose getting practically chopped off. There was a time when Dahl had to "heat a seat in the bogs" (wait until you find out what that means), and there was an interesting incident with goat's tobacco.
What's really neat, if you're a fan of Dahl's, is that you can spot his inspiration for many of his characters. His mother calls him "my darling" just like Grandmama in Danny, the Champion of the World. The Trunchbull (from Matilda) can be spotted in almost every Headmaster, as well as a touch of The Matron. I spotted the Grand High Witch from The Witches in mean Mrs. Pratchett.
Dahl mentions that he used to love photography and describes his equipment and process, which I absolutely loved, being a shutterbug myself. There are lots of pictures included in the book, many taken by the author (and many family pictures when he was a little boy as well). I just raced through his tales of childhood, thoroughly enjoying the stories and pictures (and illustrations by Quentin Blake) and when I was finished, I was a little sad because I wanted the story to continue. Lucky for me it does.........
Going Solo by Roald Dahl:
Going Solo starts where Boy left off: when Dahl sets of for Eastern Africa to work for The Shell Company. The book is very similar to its predecessor in that story after story will grab your attention and keep it. Once, Dahl saw a lion take off with the cook's wife and when someone shot at him to scare him, he set her down (unharmed) and ran away. Dahl was going to dinner at at a fellow Englishman's house when he saw a green mamba snake slither in - he helped evacuate the family out the window and waited under a nearby tree when the local crazy snake man tried to catch it. Then WWII broke out and Dahl had all sorts of adventures as a pilot in the Royal Air Force.
What an interesting life Roald Dahl led before he settled down and began his writing career! It's so interesting to read about the events that shaped him and ultimately his stories. When I finished Going Solo, I felt the same way after reading the last page of Boy: I wanted to know what happened next! I wasn't quite ready to leave Roald Dahl's world.
Which is the reason I have the authorized biography of Road Dahl sitting on my coffee table, waiting for me, at this very moment.