Wild Reading 06/07/20
Fantastic Mr Dahl
This new biography of Roald Dahl, written especially for children by former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen, has been much anticipated - it's been ten years in the making!
Michael says he is Roald Dahl's biggest fan, so much so that he founded a book prize in Roald’s name: the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Michael relays his own encounter with Roald years ago at a television studio in the opening chapter, and the influence it had on him, one of our most treasured children’s poets, is undeniable.
The book tells Roald’s life in three segments, covering his childhood that we know from Boy, complete with tales of Roald’s own tricks and plotting, through to his pilot days during the war and his adult life with family and his path into writing. To support the narrative, there are a family tree, photos and letters (complete with spelling mistakes) from the Roald Dahl Museum archive, some of which have never been published before. The book is illustrated by Quentin Blake, who illustrated Roald Dahl's books, giving it a distinctly Dahl-esque feel.
Michael’s voice is pitch-perfect for young readers - yes, it’s a fact book, and will be used in classrooms to support any Dahl reading, but Michael’s own ability to tell stories imaginatively yet truthfully, and to dip in and out of the reader’s consciousness, means that the narrative has an immersive, fictional quality. Adhering to Roald’s own motif, ‘It has to be funny’, Fantastic Mr Dahl certainly is funny and great fun to read.