Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #47: Boy by Roald Dahl

Number of pages: 177

Roald Dahl is my favourite author, so I am not sure why I put off reading either of his two autobiographies (this and Going Solo which I also intend to read at some point) for many years.

This book, as the title implies, talks about his childhood, and I was pleased to see that his writing style here was exactly the same as in the children's novels of his that I have read. The story I was most interested in reading was about how he and his friends put a dead mouse in a jar of gobstoppers to get revenge of the mean-spirited owner of the sweet shop, but I also enjoyed the rest of this book.

Most of the stories were about his schooldays, which seemed to involve being caned frequently; because he went to school in the 1920s, there was a lot more discipline involved, and much of which wouldn't be allowed nowadays because it was too cruel. At one point the book described an incident where a boy was caught snoring by the matron, who punished him by putting grated soap in his mouth.

I also loved the fact that I was able to work out which people and incidents from Roald Dahl's childhood inspired some of his best-known books; one of the teachers he mentions was almost certainly the person who Captain Lancaster, from Danny, the Champion on the World was based on, and the book also mentioned stories about chocolate bars being sent to their school, acknowledging them as one of the inspirations for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

There were also a lot of illustrations, including photographs, and pictures by my favourite illustrator, and Roald Dahl's long-time collabotator, Quentin Blake. He also included several copies of letters that he sent to his parents from boarding school, and was intrigued by the fact that he signed most of them off as "Boy", rather than using his own name (this may have been typical of the time when he grew up though).

This is definitely a book that I would recommend; I found it to be both funny and shocking at times, just like what I'm used to with Roald Dahl.

Next book: Do You Pray? (J.C. Ryle)
Tags: 1001 books to read before you die, autobiography, bildungsroman/coming of age, humor, non-fiction

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