By Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Alfred A. Knopf, 1964
“Mr Willy Wonka can make marshmallows that taste of violets, and rich caramels that change color every ten seconds as you suck them, and little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips. He can make chewing gum that never loses its taste, and candy balloons that you can blow up to enormous sizes before you pop them with a pin and gobble them up. And by a most secret method, he can make lovely blue birds’ eggs with black spots on them, and when you put one of these in your mouth, it gradually gets smaller and smaller until suddenly there is nothing left except a tiny little pink sugary baby bird sitting on the tip of your tongue.”
I bought the hardback version of Charlie as a Christmas gift for my son, who is five and a half. By request, I read it to him and my three-year-old daughter at breakneck speed. I adored this book as a kid but now, umpteen years later, I admire it, too. The velocity of Dahl’s imagination tops that of Mr. Wonka’s great glass elevator. I’ll argue with anyone who doesn’t think this belongs in a list of the Top Ten Kids’ Books of All Time.