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Roald Dahl at 100: The Greatest 10 Books of All Time

Image credit: Penguin Books Publishing

This month, book lovers around the world come together to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl- the world’s number one storyteller, whose trademark sense of humour has captivated generations of readers. And to mark the occasion, we would like to welcome you to revisit these ten timeless classics ranging from amusing tales for children to morbid adult stories.

Children's Books

James and the Giant Peach

Image credit: Puffin Books Publishing

Written in the 1960s, this ‘dark, brutal and vulgar’ tale was destined to change the perception of children’s literature. Embellished with famous illustrations by Quentin Blake, designed to fuel the reader’s imagination, the story is centred around James Henry Trotter. When an orphaned young boy is sent to live with his wicked aunts in their country home, his life takes turn for the worst. Subjected to daily abuse from the elderly spinsters, James is often found contemplating his dire circumstances. However, through a twist of fate, he comes into possession of magical green pellets, which, when accidentally spilled, produce a enormous peach in their garden. Unwilling to miss on this golden opportunity, the aunts let greed take the better of them. Together with Ladybug, Centipede and other peach residents, the young boy makes it his mission to free the peach from exploitation. Soon, the unlikely companions embark on an exhilarating journey taking them from the English countryside to American shores. The story reaches a heart-warming ending when New York hails the peach crew members as true heroes.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

Image credit: Puffin Books Publishing

Any reader with a sweet tooth will not be able to resist this beautifully written confectionary delight. For Charlie Bucket — a young boy from a humble background — drawing the Golden Ticket that grants an entry to mysterious chocolate factory is almost synonymous with winning a lottery. Along with his counterparts, Charlie is invited to take a tour around the candy-making facility led by an extraordinary, egocentric character Willy Wonka. Unbeknown to the children, a visit to a factory turns into a challenging test designed to select an heir to the chocolate empire. As the thrilling adventure reveals Charlie’s selfless and kindhearted nature, in stark contrast to his obnoxious companions, the pool of candidates is narrowed to one lucky boy. A moral story enriched with social issues, this delicious treat will be enjoyed by both children and adults alike.

Fantastic Mr Fox

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“Mr. Fox looked at the four Small Foxes and he smiled. What fine children I have, he thought. They are starving to death and they haven't had a drink for three days, but they are still undefeated. I must not let them down.”

Country life at a farm might sound like a tranquil place, but the only one who stands to enjoy it is a farmer himself. From hungry predators to livestock raised to become a meal, animals are exposed to danger on a daily basis. And Mr Fox is no exception! In his battle for survival, Mr Fox resorts to stealing from three wealthy farmers. Soon the rapid disappearance of farm animals raises suspicions, leaving farmers no other option, but to hunt the fox down. In his attempts to save his family from the hands of enraged farmers, Mr Fox teams up with underground animals to find another way into the farms. But will his cleverly-devised plan help him to outfox the humans? Mr Fox is portrayed as a multi-dimensional character who displays courage and ingenuity, turning from the chicken-thief into an unlikely hero of the story.

The Enormous Crocodile

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Infused with wicked humour, this delightful tale of greed and punishment revolves around an insatiable beast. The story offers a hair-raising portrayal of a predator who ‘licks his lips and dribbles with excitement’ at a mere sight of children. Driven by his enormous appetite for juicy plump youngsters, ghastly villain deploys all tricks in his arsenal to secure a satisfying lunch. However, the crocodile makes a crucial mistake by sharing his malicious intentions with other inhabitants in the jungle. Tired of his secret games, animals join forces to put a stop to his murderous schemes once and for all. In this heart-warming story, Dahl conveys virtue through elements of comedy, heroism and danger keeping the young readers at the edge of their seats.

The BFG

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‘Human beans is the only animals that is killing their own kind. Even poisnowse snakes is never killing each other… Has you ever thought about that?’

The story of the BFG follows the life of Sophie who is battling through her childhood adversity under the roof of London orphanage. One eventful night, as the midnight escape from the place Sophie loathes the most turns into her abduction, not even in her wildest dreams can she ever imagine what her future holds for her. Being whisked away to the Giant Country, the little girl sets off on the most exciting adventure of her life. The author goes into a great detail describing the kidnapper- a big snozzcumber-eating, whizzpopping giant- whose manners Sophie finds bemusing and baffling at the same time. The giant even uses his own jumbled form of language with its peculiar and insulting made up phrases designed to thrill the young audience worldwide. The BFG skilfully reinforces the moral values teaching some important life lessons about kindness, strength, sacrifice and dignity.

Adult Books

Someone Like You

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Someone Like You is not your ordinary collection of short stories. The master of macabre, Roald Dahl displays genius for creating seemingly impossible life scenarios and developing them into sinister plots. The author lifts the veil of an ugly face of a nefarious world exposing the human weaknesses and perversion. Here, a cold-blooded killer cooks up an evidence, while a sadistic gambler collects some bone-chilling tokens from the unfortunate game losers. From short and poignant tales to dark and morbid accounts, these fifteen classic tales mystify and challenge the reader, sending a shiver down the spine.

Kiss Kiss

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‘I stuff all my little pets myself when they pass away. Will you have another cup of tea?’

What could possibly go wrong when a young man finds a shelter under the roof of a taxidermist? What would stand in the way of ripping the gains from the deceitful bargain? Wonderously dark, these eleven devious tales offer a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of a criminal world shocking the readers with an unexpected turn of events. From duplicity and vindictiveness to selfishness, Roald Dahl explores different shades of human wickedness, creating a brooding atmosphere of unease. Through the chilling portrayal of his unscrupulous characters, the author allows the readers to draw their own inferences about what they might find uncomfortable.

My Uncle Oswald

Image credit: Penguin Publishing

Oswald Cornelius has been called many names by many people- a rapscallion, a fornicator, a scoundrel - just to name but a few. In his series of candid memoirs, the scandalous bon vivant, whose entire existence is dedicated to decadence and dissipation, indulges in the memories of a youth filled with elaborate scheming and raunchy escapades. Having discovered a source of great wealth, an irresistibly attractive young man wields a lethal combination of male magnetism, which, he is genuinely convinced, it would be a sin not to put to a good use! Garnished with pathos and sprinkled with a touch of irony, this ‘festival of bad taste’ makes a perfectly guilty pleasure some readers might find addictive.

Tales of The Unexpected

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If you have ever wondered what sinister plans might lurk in the hearts of men driving the powers of darkness, then Tales of The Unexpected might hold the answers you have been searching for. From deceiving wine connoisseurs and shameless philanders to obsessive social climbers, the villains baffle the readers with their ingenuity. Dahl’s signature style effortlessly delivers a delectably morbid ending by injecting a lethal twist into ordinary life stories turning them into alarmingly disturbing tales of terror. The master of subtle implications, Roald Dahl concocts his own brand of sparklingly wry black humour that seeps from the very first pages of this critically-acclaimed bestseller.

Going Solo

Image credit: Puffin Books Publishing

"Life is made up of a great number of small incidents and a small number of great ones.”

One of the most fascinating autobiographies ever written invites you to join the author on his heart-pounding adventures across Africa, Egypt, Italy and Lebanon. Set during World War II, Dahl’s light-hearted account of his time as an Royal Air Force Pilot represents a comical portrayal of grave situations involving poisonous snakes, plane crashes and adverse weather conditions. Along with wartime exploits, the author enriches the story with luscious descriptions of African Savannah with its exotic flora and fauna. The original letters and memorabilia included in the book add authenticity to the story, enthralling the readers. Told with the same irresistible appeal, this compelling page-turner will delight both seasoned travellers and book lovers alike!