What we’re reading: Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl


Toby has discovered Roald Dahl thanks to receiving some of his books for Christmas. We worked through The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine in no time at all and like generations of children before him Toby has decided he wants to read more of Dahl’s work. It’s no surprise really.

Roald Dahl’s books were a memorable part of my childhood, as they were for many of us who grew up in the 1980s. I think my favourite would have to be the BFG and I’ll really excited about sharing that one with T.

It’s interesting revisiting them as an adult. I was a little disappointed in the Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine. They were kooky and full of that hallmark black humour and gore that kids love. The language was silly and fun but the writing wasn’t as sharp as I thought and the plots were a little thin.

Still, what do I know because Toby loved them, and I think what makes Roald Dahl so special as a children’s author is that he appeals directly to the child, tackling topics (farting and bogeys or grandmas that you really don’t want to kiss) that the adults in a child’s world fail to address. In short, Roald Dahl tells the truth. And I really believe that that’s what kids most respond to – not just the farting gags or the gore or Quentin Blake’s fab illustrations. He also puts the power in the hands of the animal or juvenile characters and makes the adults look utterly daft. I think this is the key ingredient to some of the most successful children’s books of all time – kids that are smarter than adults.

Anyway, Fantastic Mr Fox is a new one for me, and so far I’m really enjoying it and Toby is too. The writing is slick, and the simple plot packs in the right amount of suspense and tension. We’re only on chapter four but Toby has been gripped and even disappeared under the duvet during a particularly tense moment. It hasn’t taken him long to buy into the characters at all and I’m really getting into reading this one aloud.

The story even prompted a discussion about why farmers need to shoot pests, and Toby didn’t particularly buy my explanation about famers needing to earn a living. “But they’re already rich,” he said. Ah, a socialist is born.  . .

Stay tuned to find out what we think of the next instalment.

Scores so far

Read-aloud-ability: 4/5

(Is this easy and enjoyable to read out loud?)

Fun factor : 4/5

(how much fun is the story for your child?)

Fidget factor: 0/5

(does your child sit still to listen or start dancing around?)

Fear factor: 3/5

(How scary is it?)

Page-turn-ability: 4/5

(How much do you want to keep reading?)

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