Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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10 Overall Score

Dahl isn't afraid to scare kids a little

Charlie is the most boring of the kids

Comic Info

Book Title:  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Publisher:  Alfred A. Knoph, Inc./Puffin Books

Writer:  Roald Dahl

Artist:  Quentin Blake/Joseph Schindelman/Faith Jaques/Michael Foreman

Release Date:  1964

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Roald Dahl

Charlie Bucket is barely surviving.  His family including his parents and four grandparents are barely making ends meet with his father working as a toothpaste topper at a factory.  The worst torture for Charlie, however, is every day he must walk by Willy Wonka’s internationally renowned chocolate factory where he smells the delicious candy being made inside.  When Willy Wonka announces that he has put five golden tickets out in Wonka Bars and the winners get to tour the chocolate factory, Charlie thinks his luck might change…if he can only get a golden ticket!

Written by Roald Dahl, Charlie in the Chocolate Factory was released in 1964.  The book originally featured illustrations by Joseph Schindelman for the U.S. edition and Faith Jaques for the U.K. edition.  Later editions featured art by Michael Foreman with Quentin Blake’s art being featured in the modern versions.

Both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach were household staples when I was little, and I can recall them being read to me.  Though as a kid I favored James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is probably the better book, but the novel has gone through changes since its release.

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Joseph Schindleman’s art would not fly today…

When I was little, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was rather racist (or more racist).  The version we had depicted the Oompa Loompas as pygmies and simple people.  The illustrations were loaded with stereotype pictures of the Oompa Loompas to a point that even Dahl backed off the portrayal and rewrote the sequence with new illustrations to portray them differently.  Some critics have questioned why changing the Oompa Loompas was deemed necessary while Dahl kept the rather stupid and stereotyped Prince Pondicherry in the novel.

Regardless of these changes, I do have a bit of a problem with the Oompa Loompas…their songs.  Even as a kid when I got to a song or poem in a novel, my eyes glazed over and I generally skipped it.  I still have to fight this desire today.  While songs and poems in novels make for good reading out loud (depending on the reader), they are painful to read sometimes on the written page…I find that with the Oompa Loompa songs.

The characters for the story however keep you coming back.  Charlie Bucket is nauseatingly nice and I always finds Dahl’s unforgivable sins of eating, gum chewing, being bratty, and TV watching an interesting choice.  The book title might be “Charlieand the Chocolate Factory, but I really think it should be Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teavee (and a Boring Kid Named Charlie) and the Chocolate Factory.

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Charlie’s lame…

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted twice for the screen and it is the best known of Dahl’s work as a result.  The classic Gene Wilder version (named Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to capitalize on Wilder’s role in the film) is the fun and better version though the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp version is more true to the original book.  I think the Wilder version cleans up some of the problems of Dahl’s text while maintaining the spirit while the Burton version lost the spirit but maintained text.

I still contend that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of those magical kid books.  Dahl recognized that kids liked to be scared a little and that it was ok to scare kids a little.  His books didn’t talk down to children but still feel that they are written more for children than adults (though adults will enjoy them more than many children’s novels).  Dahl followed up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1972 with Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator which takes up immediately following Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Related Links:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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