May 2, 2016

Classic of the Month: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


This is a classic children's book. Everyone loves this whimsical book, full of unrealistic candies we all wish we could eat. No matter who old you get, you can't outgrow it's charm.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie is a poor little boy. So poor his whole family lives in a tiny little house and eats mostly cabbage. Every day he has to walk past Willy Wonka's wonderful chocolate factory, where he loves to breath in the lovely chocolate smell. When he learns that Mr. Wonka is holding a contest to let five lucky children into his factory, he is excited. Charlie knows that he has next to no chance of winning, but he tries several times anyway. Through a set of lucky circumstances, he finds the last golden ticket.
He and the other children arrive at the factory. Beside him there is Augustus Gloop, a greedy pig, Violet Beauregarde, a gum-smacker, Veruca Salt, a first class brat, and Mike Teavee, a TV obsessed kid. They travel through the factory, learning about Willy Wonka's awesome creations. One by one they are tempted and give in, thus being eliminated from the contest. In the end only Charlie is left. Mr. Wonka tells him he won the contest and is the successor to his factory. (If you want to know what happens after that, read Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.)

What I Like About It

Charlie is a remarkable hero. Life gave him it's worst, and yet Charlie never gave up. He resisted all temptations presented him at the factory. So he was rewarded for it. Grandpa Joe is also a great grandfather, trying to keep Charlie going.

The factory and Willy Wonka are two of the best part of the book. Wonka is so funny, with his Oompa Loompas that sing carefully pointed songs. But the factory is even better. Fudge Mountain, Square Candies that Look Round, Lickable Wallpaper, a chocolate river- so many delicious sounding candies. I always wished I could go into the factory and explore the whole thing. And try a treat, or several.

Dahl made some excellent points through his writing too. He talked about a lot of problems that existed now and then, which is what makes it timeless. Each child, except Charlie, represents a problem. Each one gets dealt with, in not so nice ways.

Film Adaptations

There are two popular films made from this book. The first is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. It was made in 1971. For many years, this was the only film based on the book. I have never liked it. The songs were fine, but I found many of the elements weird and untrue to the book. But it wasn't terrible either.

Then there's the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory made in 2005 by Tim Burton. It starred Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore as Willy Wonka and Charlie, respectively. I love this version. It is pretty close to the book and done with great casting. Besides, who could resist Johnny?

What do you think of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? When did you first read it? Do you like either of the movies? Let me know.

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