Roald Dahl is one of my absolute favorite authors (his illustrator, Quentin Blake, is one of my favorite illustrators, too). While I enjoy his more well known books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, he wrote for many audiences beyond children and in a variety of forms: poetry, short stories, novels. Here’s a list of my favorite Dahl books that might be less well known but just as brilliant.
The Twits is a scathing and hilarious commentary on unkind people; the short chapter book is great for intermediate readers and older who enjoy Dahl’s sense of humor.
“Mr. Twit was a twit. He was born a twit. And, now at the age of sixty, he was a bigger twit than ever.” [Roald Dahl, The Twits]
. The Twits is a short tale that reflects Dahl’s writing territory: silly, vengeful, and delightful.
How do you outwit a Twit? Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the smelliest, ugliest people in the world. They hate everything — except playing mean jokes on each other, catching innocent birds to put in their Bird Pies, and making their caged monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps, stand on their heads all day. But the Muggle-Wumps have had enough. They don’t just want out, they want revenge. (via Goodreads)
Readers will be repulsed by the Twits in not only their bad hygiene but also their rotten attitudes. Cheering on the Muggle-Wumps as they decide to take revenge on the Twits is fun for the reader. While the book has many clever jokes, it’s a wonderful commentary on the value of being a kind person.
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” [Roald Dahl, The Twits]
Roald Dahl wrote several memoirs about his childhood in England which included boarding school and visiting eccentric Norwegian relatives. These books help readers grasp what an imaginative and wild childhood Dahl had. Of all Dahl books, the “Boy” books are among my all time favorites.
In Boy, Roald Dahl recounts his days as a child growing up in England. From his years as a prankster at boarding school to his envious position as a chocolate tester for Cadbury’s, Roald Dahl’s boyhood was as full of excitement and the unexpected as are his world-famous, best-selling books. Packed with anecdotes — some funny, some painful, all interesting — this is a book that’s sure to please.
If you’ve never read George’s Marvelous Medicine, it’s another example of Dahl’s brilliant writing style. Sure to please younger readers.
George’s Grandma is a grizzly, grumpy, selfish old woman with pale brown teeth and a small puckered up mouth like a dog’s bottom. Four times a day she takes a large spoonful of medicine, but it doesn’t seem to do her any good. She’s always just as poisonous after she’s taken it as she was before. When George is left to look after her one morning, it’s just the chance he needs . . .
This collection of short stories is written for older (young adult) audiences. This book is a great way to incorporate Roald Dahl into older classrooms to help rejuvenate bored readers. Regardless of it’s use in the classroom, I always recommend that any adult pick up this collection for a read.
Is it really possible to invent a machine that does the job of a writer? What is it about a landlady’s house that makes it so hard for her guests to leave? Does Sir Basil Turton value most his wife or one of his priceless sculptures? Here are thirteen of Roald Dahl’s most unexpected tales, offering young readers the perfect introduction to the adult writing of a storytelling genius. From the sensitivity of stories such as “Katina” to the surprising creepiness of “Taste”, these stories are full of all the fun, excitement and wonder of Roald Dahl’s writing, offering originality, ingenuity, horror, unexpected twists and turns, a touch of the macabre – and much more besides.
The Witches has to be one of Dahl’s best pieces. It simultaneously delighted and frightened me as a child; I read it multiple times. As an adult, I love reading how Dahl characterizes the witches as well as the relationship between the main character and his mother. This would be a perfect October/Halloween book for teachers and parents of intermediate readers.
This Roald Dahl classic tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale of a seven-year-old boy who has a run-in with some real-life witches! “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. REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women. They live in ordinary houses and they work in ordinary jobs. That is why they are so hard to catch.” Witches, as our hero learns, hate children. With the help of a friend and his somewhat-magical grandmother, our hero tries to expose the witches before they dispose of him.
Ok, one last favorite book from my childhood: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. This book was a well worn copy that I read many times. Highly recommend this one for any reader or fan of Roald Dahl.
Seven stories of fantasy and fun by the fantastic Roald Dahl. The Boy Who Talked With Animals – in which a stranded sea turtle and a small boy have more in common than meets the eye. The Hitchhiker – proves that in a pinch a professional pickpocket can be the perfect pal. The Mildenhall Treasure – a true tale of fortune found and an opportunity lost. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – in which a modern-day Robin Hood brings joy to the hearts of orphans – and fear to the souls of casino owners around the world.
[Summary excerpts from Goodreads]