BOOK REVIEWS

Boy: Tales of Childhood Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-25 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 278 user ratings
ISBN:0140089179
LANGUAGE:English

"Boy è il romanzo autobiografico di uno dei maggiori scrittori per ragazzi di sempre. Per scoprire la genesi del genio di Roald Dahl e di molti dei suoi personaggi più riusciti questa è una lettura obbligata.
Vissuto dal 1916 al 1990, Roald Dahl ebbe una vita molto movimentata. Nato a Llandaff, paesino del Galles, da genitori norvegesi, perse il padre in tenera età ma ebbe la fortuna di crescere con una madre coraggiosa e molto pratica, che si fece carico della sua grande famiglia allargata (oltre ai quattro figli naturali, furono due le figlie ereditate dal matrimonio precedente del marito e tra queste la decrepita sorellastra) e che lo educò nel migliore dei modi, aprendolo a fantastiche esperienze di vita, come sicuramente furono le vacanze estive in Norvegia, ma facendo anche in modo che ricevesse un’ottima istruzione in una scuola inglese, così come auspicato dal marito prima di morire.
E sarà proprio la scuola - con i suoi severissimi metodi di insegnamento, le punizioni corporali, i compagni tiranni, le divise ridicole - a fornire materiale di prima scelta per alcuni dei personaggi indimenticabili dei suoi romanzi. La terribile Sorvegliante della sua scuola non può non rievocare immediatamente la perfida direttrice Spezzindue di Matilde, così come l'aneddoto delle tavolette di cioccolato regalate dalla ditta di Cadbury agli studenti perché facessero da assaggiatori sarà lo spunto per scrivere il suo libro più famoso, La fabbrica di cioccolato.
Tra le mani ci ritroviamo un libro-diario che fa sorridere, se pur con piccoli accenni di malinconia negli episodi più tristi che segnarono la sua crescita, scritto con lo stile brioso ed originale che da sempre contraddistingue le sue opere e arricchito da numerose foto d’epoca, bellissime illustrazioni del grande Quentin Blake, i moltissimi ritagli delle lettere scritte alla madre (per me, l'aspetto forse più intimo di questa autobiografia). Consigliatissimo!
" said.

"I'm not usually one for autobiographies, but this one rocked. Ronald Dahl was a fortunate child. Fortunate that he wasn't killed many times by events in his life and by the awesome adventures and memories he was privileged to have.
I will give you my favorite excerpt from this book.
"It won't take two seconds, " the doctor said. He spoke gently, and I was seduced by his voice. Like an ass, I opened my mouth.
The tiny blade flashed in the bright light and disappeared into my mouth.

You must read the book to find out what the outcome of that encounter was. Even better was his story about Mrs. Pratchett and the mouse he puts in her candy jar. That one had tears rolling out of my eyes from laughing so hard.
" said.

"Roald Dahl è il mio mito.
Lo è da quando, a sette anni o giù di lì, l'ho scoperto per la prima volta, e probabilmente lo sarà per sempre.

Ha una voce inconfondibile, una visione del mondo che fa invidia e una vita splendidamente eccitante. C'è qualcosa nel suo modo di scrivere che rende ogni aneddoto, ogni capitolo e ogni personaggio assolutamente memorabile e facile da visualizzare. È divertente, a tratti esilarante, confortante e spaventoso, e a volte serio. È questo, forse, quello che ha dato a questo libro la spintarella che mancava per raggiungere la valutazione massima: la capacità di trattare argomenti un po' più importanti, un po' meno aneddotici, con un tocco leggero ma istruttivo, di un istruttivo che non indottrina ma fa pensare.

Le illustrazioni di Quentin Blake, che accompagnano questo libro come ogni altro romanzo per ragazzi di Dahl, sono la ciliegina sulla torta che invece di farmi sentire nostalgica mi mette addosso una gioia quasi infantile. È meraviglioso vedere come la stessa storia possa rendermi felice oggi esattamente quanto lo faceva sette anni fa, nonostante una prospettiva attuale più matura e analitica. Dahl, per me, è sopra qualunque giudizio - e non perché abbia preconcetti che mi fanno amare ogni suo libro allo stesso modo indipendentemente dalle sue qualità individuali, ma perché lui, come autore, è invariabilmente, costantemente fantastico.

Non c'è niente da fare - lo adoro.

Ho qualcosa da criticare però, perchè altrimenti non sarei io.
Per quanto la traduttrice abbia reso bene il tono della storia e selezionato il lessico in maniera tale da renderlo accessibile a ragazzi più giovani ma comunque maturo e forse anche un po' nostalgico, per quanto sia rimasta complessivamente fedele alla stesura originale, e per quanto la qualità grammaticale sia notevolmente sopra la media attuale in fatto di traduzioni italiane, ho trovato una manciata di errori che mi hanno infastidita non poco - prevalentemente virgole fuori posto e un paio di congiuntivi cannati.
Ma non ho la minima intenzione di valutare la traduzione qui.
Soltanto uno dei miei libri preferiti.
" said.

"Reading this was such a pleasure, since Roald Dahl’s books were among our favorites when my children were younger. I haven’t yet seriously ventured into his books for adults. I tried to read one of them, but it was dark and I was sitting alone in the car and got seriously scared. I still want to give them a go and haven’t quite given up yet. Anyway, I digress. This is an easy and quick read as far as autobiographies go. It’s not a complete autobiography, however, just enjoyable stories about his childhood. I’ve always enjoyed Dahl’s writing style.

This part touched me. Roald Dahl was sent to boarding school at the age of nine.
“From my very first Sunday at St. Peter’s until the day my mother died thirty-two years later, I wrote to her once a week, sometimes more often, whenever I was away from home. I wrote to her every week from St. Peter’s, and every week from my next school, Repton, and every week from Dar es Salaam in East Africa, where I went on my first job after leaving school, and then every week during the war from Kenya and Iraq and Egypt when I was flying with the RAF.
My mother, for her part, kept every one of those letters, binding them carefully in neat bundles with green tape, but this was her own secret. She never told me she was doing it. In 1957, when she knew she was dying, I was in hospital in Oxford having a serious operation on my spine and I was unable to write to her. So she had a telephone specially installed beside her bed in order that she might have one last conversation with me. She didn’t tell me she was dying nor did anyone else for that matter because I was in a fairly serious condition myself at the time. She simply asked me how I was and hoped I would get better soon and sent me her love. I had no idea that she would die the next day, but she knew all right and she wanted to reach out and speak to me for the last time.”

And his father:
“He harboured a curious theory about how to develop a sense of beauty in the minds of his children. Every time my mother became pregnant, he would wait until the last three months of her pregnancy and then he would announce to her that ‘the glorious walks’ must begin. These glorious walks consisted of him taking her to places of great beauty in the countryside and waking with her for about an hour each day so that she could absorb the splendor of the surroundings. His theory was that if the eye of a pregnant woman was constantly observing the beauty of nature, this beauty would somehow become transmitted to the mind of the unborn baby within her womb and that baby would grow up to be a lover of beautiful things. This was the treatment that all of his children received before they were born.”
" said.

"What child is not completely enamored by the stories written by Roald Dahl? For that matter, what adult does not have a special place in their heart for his audacious, fantastical, magical, whimsical tales? Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, James & The Giant Peach, Fantastic Mister Fox, Matilda. To name only a few. Not to mention his equally magnificent fiction / nonfiction for adults.

Here is a chance for a behind-the-scenes look into this storyteller's world. What was this man's childhood like to have the imagination necessary for such grandeur stories? What were his formative years like? His family? Friends? In his teenage years, did he know he wanted to be a writer?

Boy: Tales of Childhood answer these tantalizing inquiries, and more. Readers learn of seven-year-old Roald's personal adventures with the candy shoppe down the street, which no doubt inspired Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and a woman whom owns the shoppe that shares similarities with characters featured in The Magic Finger, even Matilda. Aside from that, it is a historically accurate look at life in England/Wales in the early twentieth century, from the onset of automobiles to the questionable medical practices to English boarding schools to the economical industry at the time.

He is raised by two loving parents in Norway, until the death of his sister Astri, followed soon thereafter by his late father (likely attributable to the grief over his favorite daughter). He attends Llandaff Cathedral School for two years, until his tencious mother, raising him and his siblings alone and determined to follow her late husband's wishes that his children have an English prepatory education ("The very best is the world"), sends Roald Dahl to St. Peter's in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. His mother and siblings (two from his late father's first marriage, three sisters with his own mother, minus Astri, making four!) remained in nearby Wales.

At nine years old, boarding school was understandable a lonely, intimidating experience. From his memories of the Headmaster and Floor Matron, readers are given the undeniable inspiration for what became the novel Matilda.

The role of the headmaster continues to be central in Roald's life when he begins Public School at thirteen, this time at Repton near Derby. His family had relocated to Kent by then. More anecdotes of his early years are told, often endearing, always hilarious. As a photographer (amateur) myself, I was inordinately thrilled to learn of his affinity for it. He was also an unexpected captain for Fives (similar to handball) and Squash during these years.

At Repton, Roald and his classmates were given boxes of chocolates from The Cadbury Corporation, in exchange for their feedback on each piece. A fine marketing test group strategy by them, but, better yet, another childhood memory that contributed to Charlie & The Chocolate Factory!

At eighteen, opting out of university, Roald begins prosperous career at The Shell Company in England. Two years later, the company reassigns him to a post in East Africa, to his delight. Unfortunately, a few short years later, in 1939, World War II dawns, relocating Roald again, this time to Nairobi, then all over The Mediterranean, serving as a Royal Air Force pilot. Alas, as the author promises, that is another story (later published as Going Solo). Going Solo

Included in this are personal portraits of Roald at various ages (an adorable child,an ambitious teenager, a handsome and charming young man), family photographs, places he lived, attended for his early education, visited, etcetera. Of course, for everything else there are the iconic sketches and doodles by Quentin Blake (readers will remember the same hand that illustrated all their favorite children's stories).

For twenty years, from 1925 to 1945, his mother conscientiously saved Roald's more than six hundred letters to her, equally diligently, lovingly written year after year. A priceless archive, especially for a writer such as himself, given to him as a gift on his mother's deathbed. Parts of these are interlaced between the text (thus exhibiting young Roald's evolving penmanship), colorfully but authentically supplementing, telling a tale almost as grand as the fiction he wrote for decades.

This was such a pleasure, as Roald Dahl is one of my favorite children's book authors. Many share my sentiments. May he rest in peace.


" said.

" I don't know if it was the book itself, my affinity towards Roald Dahl, or Dan Stevens' narration, but I absolutely adored this and, like listening to your grandfather's old stories, would most definitely listen to it again. " said.

" Funny and moving account of a 1920s chldhood in Wales, England and Norway, written by a master storyteller. " said.

"I am very fond of reading books about children’s bitter experiences. Perhaps I believe in American psychologist, Erik Fromm’s belief that “ to understand children, we, adults, try to think like a child again.”Unfortunately, not all adults are aware of this fact. That’s why the main purpose of literature is to educate people about life, basically about children life. I have read some books about children. I can hardly ever forget Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt ( 5 stars ), The Butcher’s Boy by Patrick McCabe ( 3 stars ), Torey Hayden’s books such as The Innocent Child and its sequel The Tiger’s Child ( I was so generous to fault to give both 5 stars at that time when I was not yet critical on Good Reads. ) I also cried over the classical books such as Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Even Beloved by Toni Morrison, one of my favorite fictional writers , punched my chest although the character is a young teen-ager gives eerie feelings. For local books, one is the Connecting the Dots by Gojo Cruz ( 5 stars ) which author swept me off my feet. ( laughs ) Such books are awash in the same theme: human cruelty in children, perhaps, out of ignorance.

This book of Road Dahl is one of the books above. This may be intended to make readers laugh. Of course, I did. However, the real highlight of this , even Dahl admitted it at the end of the story, is his miserable experiences as a student in the hands of his school head masters, teachers, and matrons. ( or you’d rather I put it bluntly , under the rotten educational system in Britain at that time ) Dahl narrated how he was such a poor innocent child . He was an archetype of educational upbringing. He had been beaten many times. So had his classmates. He had been humiliated and treated unfairly. So had his classmates. Admittedly, I abandoned myself to his said stories. If I had been his classmate at that time, I would have been so defiant that I could have been booted out. ( laughs ) So , the title of this book fits all the stories- Boys: Tales of Childhood.


I always want to be an active advocate for children’s rights, particularly for their education. Like Dahl, I was also a victim of wrong education from teachers who may have been ignorant of child psychology. As a teacher now , I believe in teaching students based on their individualism.

The good thing about this is that Road Dahl was still able to make us laugh despite those harboring ill-feelings. He was like a friend I have just made, sharing his ala Thomas-Sawyer stories. The atmosphere he built was so amiable that I felt sympathy for him. In addition, reading it was so easy unlike the other autobiographies or novels about children which require higher level of thinking. He narrated his stories age by age and every sentence is well-written. Since it is a children book, I hope young readers take precious lessons from it. And I do not think that it should be banned from the hands of young readers just like of what happened to his Charllie and the Chocolate Factory which received negative criticism. Duty on their distorted realities! ^^

Road Dahl said in his preface that an autobiography for him is full of all sorts of boring details. If I take him for his words, what he meant to say I believe is like what the famous American writer, William Arthur Ward, said:

“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”

Yippee! ^^

" said.

May 2018 New Book:

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