This was one of my favourites! Still is.
But looking at it now… how is this book for kids?
I guess we should start with a quick summary for the audience. And when I say we I mean ME! Chocolate. Don’t we all love chocolate? Now imagine your town has a chocolate factory in it. And not just any chocolate factory, but the biggest, the best, the one that makes all the most delicious, unbelievable treats in the world. But it’s locked. Nobody goes in, nobody comes out. Boxes of chocolates and sweet treats and delicious chocolaty smells, but what’s going on in there?
He’s not exaggerating. They make a big deal out of the fact that the gates are always locked and nobody seems to work there. I’d say that’s a chance for a very creepy plotline right there. But it gets weird enough as it is.
Anyway. Now imagine that one day, the owner of this factory announces that there are going to be five golden tickets hidden in chocolate wrappers worldwide. And the five lucky winners get to see the factory! HOW COOL IS THAT?!
… pretty cool, honestly. The whole big deal they make out of the factory really makes you want to see what’s inside. But now imagine you're Charlie Bucket, the main character. You're a sweet kid with a nice family who never did anything wrong to anyone. And you live in what is, generously, a shack, with the worst luck in the world. And by the way, the story really yanks Charlie around. Ooooh does the starving child want a golden ticket more than anything else in the world? Your whole family saved up to get you a chocolate bar for your birthday. Maaaybe you’ll get it now. Whoops, no. How about when your grandpa spends the last of his hidden mattress money? Awwww. Too bad kid. Hey maybe things will look up in the next chapter. Called ‘The family begins to starve’.
Sharky calm down.
I can’t. It’s so SAD it’s almost ridiculous.
But the next chapter is called ‘The miracle’!
It really is a miracle. I’ll admit, it’s really satisfying when he DOES get his ticket, after watching the other winning kids on tv who really don’t care much about it. Which I guess is the point of making everything so hopeless at first. There's definitely an air of fairy-tale rags to riches about it.
It’s great. The whole magical moment when the gates open up for them, and they get to see Willy Wonka, the owner of the chocolate factory himself-
Who is hilarious and likes to insult people. Not right now but we’ll get there. But he’s rich and owns a place everyone wants to see so nobody makes a big deal out of anything he does. Yet.
The real showpiece of the book is the factory itself. The description of how everything looks, the weird and creative sweets… awesome. There’s a whole field of edible grass and a chocolate river and waterfall! WHAT? Right from the first room you just want to be there. Sooooo badly. It’s a rollercoaster of creativity.
Oh man, absolutely. Real childhood dream stuff. Aaaaand then things go wrong.
One kid falls into the chocolate river and gets sucked into the factory, and not ONLY does the tour go on, Wonka goes out of his way to make jokes about him getting turned into fudge!
… it’s actually pretty funny in context?
… okay yeah, the way it plays out is hilarious.
Look they all come out okay in the end. Wonka wasn’t ever worried and said they’d all come out fine, and you believe him. It’s pretty obvious he’s completely in control of the situation and is just being a jerk about acting like he doesn’t know if they’re going to be okay.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the book. I still love it. But it’s weird how casually it endangers children. In a book for children.
True. And while they DO come out fine the first song the workers sing IS pretty grim even if they’re just joking or trying to unsettle the tour group. But wasn’t it satisfying to have the rich brat who’s been screaming throughout the tour get thrown down the garbage chute?
Amazing. In fact it’s satisfying each time one of the brats who isn’t Charlie gets their comeuppance. And hey, Wonka warned them not to touch anything. He told them to stop when they fiddled anyway. And they come off as SO unbearable that whatever happens to them actually sounds pretty justified in a weird way, since they survive it all in the end. It’s the same way making things so hopeless in the start made the happiness better in contrast.
It’s only a problem when you think too hard about it later. Like Sharky does.
We won’t talk too much about the creativity and the treats, you should read all that for yourself. It’s a short book so you won't waste your time even if it doesn't grab you right off. … haha, short, and sweet.
Don’t. And things work out surprisingly well for Charlie and his whole family, which was great after all they get put through. I'm picking on it a lot, but if you just go along for the ride it’s a pretty charming book all around.
I love happy endings.
He’ll forgive almost anything if there’s a happy ending.
Ten points for everything working out! Ten points for creativity! And ten points for my favourite dumb joke, ‘square sweets that look round’. You’ll see. Thirty points! And bonus points for making me really, really hungry.
Thirty out of what?