Willy Wonka Prequel Film in the Works!

Wow. The news feeds are full this week with stories that the Roald Dahl estate is working with Warner Bros. to produce a new film about Willy Wonka. No, it’s not the official sequel Charlie and the Great Class Elevator. Instead it’s going to be a prequel story that comes before the events of the first book. It won’t be an origin story, but rather ” a standalone movie focused on Wonka and his early adventures”. The filmmakers are clearly trying to establish a Potter-like franchise, and they think Wonka could provide the hook.

Reaction seems to be mixed so far. Some fans are upset at this happening and feel it somehow insults Gene Wilder’s memory so soon after his death. Others are surprised that the notoriously picky Dahl estate would back the project.

I’m a little ambivalent about this one. Studios are rushing to establish franchises and “cinematic universes,” but I’m not sure if the Charlie books have enough world-building in them to support it. And unlike the Potter example, we don’t have Dahl himself around to bless the extended canon. The author of the initial Variety piece speculated on Twitter whether Dahl had any unpublished writing about Wonka the screenwriter will be able to use. I’d be surprised if that were the case. (The only scraps I’ve ever seen were from excised chapters and later sequels that never got finished.)

What do you think? Are you excited about this project or wary?

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Roald Dahl Day Book Cake

Wow! Check out this amazing Roald Dahl Dahl cake from wackywebsters.

The site is run by Jack Webster, an 18yo catering student in London. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to see his amazing creations. He’s also raising money for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, so please donate if you’re able.

100 years of Dahl: Revisiting the magic of Matilda

Roald Dahl’s Matilda is smart, strong, kind, and fiery, but, more than that, an ordinary little girl with a love of reading and learning.

Source: 100 years of Dahl: Revisiting the magic of Matilda

Lovely article about Matilda and how the book touched the author’s life! I was honoured to be interviewed and have some of my quotes included as well.

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Roald Dahl Day

Happy Roald Dahl Day! September 13, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary since Roald Dahl’s birth. The official Roald Dahl site has lots of information about the day and the many events and celebrations taking place. Don’t forget to check your local news too for events happening near you!

Upcoming Dahl-related performances

Just added some new Dahl-related Theater & Symphony productions to the site, including some upcoming performances in the UK:

If you attend any of these performances, send me an email afterwards with a review!

New Teacher Idea – “If I were a giant…”

Many thanks to the folks at The Book People for sharing a new Teacher Idea: “If I were a giant…” Teachers can download a template for students with prompts to describe and draw themselves as a giant. You can read more about the activity on the Book People website.

Why did Willy Wonka open his factory on October 1st?

Recently I got an email from a visitor asking why, in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka chooses to open his factory on October 1st. The book, you may recall, has the date on February 1st. So I did some digging…

“The Honeys” – Media Mentions from The New York Times

The archive of The New York Times is a treasure trove. Recently I managed to find more than a dozen mentions of “The Honeys,” Roald Dahl’s one failed attempt at playwriting from 1955. It’s fascinating to trace the trajectory from the optimistic early days when the project was first kicking off, to the first indications of trouble (the director quit!), the eventual premiere, subsequent bad reviews, and ultimately its closing. Even at the end, Dahl was still vowing to rewrite and launch a new production in London. Looks like that never happened…

Two brand new Dahl short stories added!

It’s not often I get to read a Roald Dahl story for the first time, much less twice in one day!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Zoran Pajic, who was trying to find a copy of an obscure story that Dahl had contributed to called “Death in the Square: A Christmas Mystery in Four Parts.” It was published in the December 24, 1988 issue of The Daily Telegraph Magazine. I had to confess I’d never heard of it! I went down a research rabbit-hole and eventually managed to locate a copy with the help of a librarian friend, Amy Allenspach. It’s a very, very odd story, and I’ve written up a plot description if you’re curious. Thanks for the prompt, Zoran, and thank you Amy for assisting!

Ever since Zoran’s question, I’ve continued to research the various periodicals that published Dahl short stories. I started with the list at the end of Sturrock’s biography. Sturrock says that the first printing of “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life” was in the September 1974 issue of The New Yorker. However, when I started looking for it I discovered this is an error. The story was actually published in the September 14, 1974 issue of The New York Times. I managed to find a copy of the issue, and to my surprise the story is quite different from the version I was familiar with. Dahl relates it as a true story that happened to him, and there’s no mention of Claud in it anywhere. It also has a slightly different title. I’ve transcribed Dahl’s introduction and added some funny letters that were later published in The Times as a response. Pretty cool!