Friday, October 2, 2009

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Roald Dahl ~ Quentin Blake ~ Penguin, 1985

Since I totally missed Roald Dahl Day last month, I figured better late than never. And considering that Dahl is pretty much all we read in the evenings now... I love giving him the love. Having moved into reading longer books to the boy, there is almost no one I'd rather read than Dahl. The thing about reading to a child for 30 minutes to an hour is that it has to be something that keeps your interest, that's just as much fun for you as it is for them... and Dahl's books always make good on that. I LOVE reading his books aloud. They are the perfect stories for small children who are hungry for more, but can't yet read themselves.

The boy listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (with Eric Idle reading on CD) five times this summer. He continually pulls out The Fantastic Mr. Fox (there's a new trailer out for the movie as well, yippee), Esio Trot, George's Marvelous Medicine, The Magic Finger and James and the Giant Peach. The only exception to the "WE LOVE DAHL" rule in our house is Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (the sequel to the Chocolate Factory). The story is a little far fetched and I hate to say a little tiresome, and we've never made it all the way through because both our minds wander and we always end up putting it down... putting it down and picking this one up... The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me... by far the boy's favorite Dahl book, for obvious feathered reasons. And so...

There's this boy Billy, see. And he loves to wonder about a old, abandoned candy store not far from where he lives. He dreams of owning a sweet shop (a grubber) someday, but his daydreams are interrupted when somebody moves into the building.

When I got back to the Grubber house the next morning, the first thing I noticed was the new door. The dirty old brown door had been taken out and in its place someone had fitted a brand-new red one. The new door was fantastic. It was twice as high as the other one had been and it looked ridiculous. I couldn't begin to imagine who would want a tremendous tall door like that in his house unless it was a giant. As well as this, somebody had scraped away the SOLED notice on the shop-window and now there was a whole lot of different writing all over the glass. I stood there reading it and reading it and trying to figure out what on earth it all meant.

The Ladderless Window Cleaning Company ~
Get your windows cleaned without a lot of dirty ladders leaning against your house.

Enter the Giraffe, the Pelly and me (the 'me' being a delightful little monkey). Billy's adventures with this trio lead on a big job to a mystery solved and end with Billy getting his own sweet shop. Just wonderful. My favorite thing about Dahl books is that most of them are about something magical happening to an ordinary child. Which is what we all dreamed of back then, isn't it? And most all of them include Blake's awesome illustrations. Not to mention, there are almost always poems and songs along the way.

We will polish your glass
Till it's shining like brass
And it sparkles like sun on the sea!
We will work for Your Grace
Till we're blue in the face,
The Giraffe and the Pelly and me!

I never read any of Dahl's books as a child and I'm so hooked now, I bought Dahl's young adult autobiographies for myself... Boy and Going Solo. As soon as he told the story of his father losing an arm as a small child I was hooked. His one-armed father goes on to build a small fortune for himself and his family and then dies suddenly in his 50s a few weeks after losing a daughter... a loss that will echo the loss of Dahl's own daughter decades later... I'm still on the first one, but dang, this man's experiences are utterly fascinating! I'm completely intrigued to get to know the life whose sadness and joy bore all these amazing places and tales. What a story indeed.

Also by:
Dirty Beasts
Mouse Trouble
Fantastic Mr. Fox


Jen@FIRR-Kids! said...

I, too, love Roald Dahl. We read his books growing up and I have a good collection going for my kids. Our favorite was "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar." We were all disappointed when our copy literally fell apart.

Um, I have never heard of The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me. Doesn't make me sound like a very good fan, but it's true. I'll remedy that and get my hands on this one right away. Thanks very much!

Unknown said...

Dahl for adults and children is amazing. I am also currently trying to read all his adult stuff, after loving his children's work. Dahl, if I could meet you, I'd just hug you and smile at you all day!

Unknown said...

we have to take charlie and the choc factory back to the library tomorrow. sp has been hooked this whole week...maybe we'll pick this one up next:)

Burgin Streetman said...

Henry Sugar is the best. We listened to that as a family inthe car on vacation and all were mesmerized... husband, wife and child alike.

Janna said...

There is a fascinating biography of Roald Dahl by Jeremy Treglown. It does tell of his many flaws, though.

Brimful Curiosities said...

I don't know much about Dahl's life. Now I must read more about him. Thanks for your informative post.

Chandra said...

I agree that Dahl is an absolute delight to read aloud. He is Izzy's absolute favorite author of all time. I have to agree about The Great Glass Elevator though - what a disappointment! We were so eager to start it upon finishing Chocolate Factory, but what a stinker. I couldn't finish it. Izzy has read almost every single thing he touched. We just read 'The Enormous Crocodile' today and found it very enjoyable indeed! By the by, have you ever heard any of his recordings? We have him reciting The Dentist and the Crocodile on a poetry CD and it's absolutely delightful! He had such a distinctive voice/cadence.

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