Roald Dahl Day: We choose our favourite five imaginative and funny novels
Roald Dahl's books have been adored by children and adults alike all over the world.
Whether you have only seen the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder playing the whimsical chocolatier, or have witnessed Matilda's teleportation powers on the silver screen, but haven't read the books, you can't not know Roald Dahl.
The prolific writer's books have been published in more than 50 languages, and like any classical author, his books are so timeless that they hold your attention as much as they did when they were first published more than half a century ago.
Here's our pick of Roald Dahl's best books for you, on the occasion of his 100th birth anniversary:
The Witches (1983)
An orphaned boy (who is never named) is sent to Norway to live with his grandmother, who warns him to be wary of witches, but when they travel to England together it just so happens that they stumble upon a witch convention there.
The Grand High Witch in England has a clever plan to rid the country of all its children: she will turn them into mice. When our brave protagonist overhears the plot, he knows he must do something to stop them.
This is one of Dahl's funnier and darker books, and Quentin Blake (who illustrated many of Dahl's books) adds punch to the story-line with his powerful illustrations.
Matilda Wormwood is one of Dahl's most enduring heroines and had a profound impact on me (and I suspect several other children) growing up.
A five-year-old child prodigy who loves to read, Matilda has a horrible family and a headmistress who's worse. She soon discovers that she has the power of telekinesis, and is helped by her class teacher, Miss Honey, along the way.
Miss Trunchbull, the evil headmistress, remains an iconic villain for kids who cheered Matilda along when she tried to overthrow her tyrannical reign over the school.
James and the Giant Peach (1961)
A newly orphaned boy whose parents are killed by an escaped rhinoceros lives with Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. The aunts treat him so badly that he escapes to live in a giant peach, and befriends the magical bugs he comes across.
This is one of the most surreal of Roald Dahl's books, so let your imagination run wild with James and his friends Miss Spider, Centipede, Earthworm and Old-Green-Grasshopper.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)
One of the oldest and most famous books is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The story follows the whimsical chocolatier Willy Wonka and the five children he invites to see his factory. Each of these children, one of them being the poverty-striken Charlie, represent a deadly sin: Augustus is gluttony; Veruca is greed, Violet pride and Mike sloth. Out of all the kids who go into the factory, only honest Charlie is rewarded because of his natural kindness.
Wondering how Roald Dahl cooks up his stories?
You should definitely read Boy. The autobiography tells us stories from his childhood to the time he left school in the 1930s. The tragic yet comedic events will tell you all you need to know about the childhood of one of the most prolific writers of our lifetime — although some experts on Dahl contend you need to take this account with a tiny pinch of salt.