Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rereading The Witches by Roald Dahl

In fairy tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. 

The Witches is probably one of my favorite Roald Dahl books. It has somewhat of a morbid streak, but it is highly entertaining. The Witches, as you might have guessed, is about REAL WITCHES. The scene where the witches of England have their grand conference and plot the death of all children is particularly morbid. But let me back up. Our narrator is an unnamed little boy whose Norwegian grandmother tells him all about witches, who are determined to rid the world of children. She tells him how to recognize one, and to run the other way if you see a witch. But our young narrator gets caught in the middle of not one witch, not two witches, but the annual conference of all the country's witches! More ensues, ultimately with the narrator (though in slightly altered form) attempting to get rid of all the witches in one fell swoop.

I've really been reading a lot of Roald Dahl lately, and I'm planning to read more. The great thing about his books is that they're so quick to get through, and so amusing to read.

This is probably my third time reading The Witches and I noticed one really important new thing. The narrator of this story's family is Norwegian, and his grandmother, who takes care of him after his parents die in a car accident, regales him with stories about witches and other things. Roald Dahl himself was at least partly Norwegian, and though he grew up mainly in England and Wales, he went to Norway every summer for vacation. Some of the descriptions of fishing in Norway (though they never get to go in The Witches) must be based upon his own experiences. It was a nice touch that I hadn't noticed before.

Roald Dahl seems to have an almost universal theme among his children's books: it's the kids vs. the grown ups and inevitably, the kids win. I think every kid loves to read about that, especially as it can be so different in the real world. Roald Dahl's creative genius is once again showcased in this marvelous book, full of evil witches and brave boys and one really smart grandmother.

Read The Witches:
  • if you like Roald Dahl
  • if you like books with - what else- witches
208 pages.
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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