An effusive celebration of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on its 50th anniversary.
This chatty volume opens by describing Dahl’s years of work on the novel, which were interrupted by personal tragedies, then gives a lengthy account of film and stage versions. No fact is too small to include, such as Fred Astaire’s secret desire, revealed after casting, to be Willie Wonka. Mangan, a British journalist, tends toward the coy, labeling the first film’s reviews as “less than scrumdiddlyumptious.” The most engaging chapter explores visuals that illustrators and designers created of the story. After a survey of the novel’s influence on popular culture, the narrative meanders off into a history of chocolate. It wraps up with a fervid defense of Dahl against his critics, mainly librarians and other reviewers who just didn’t “ ‘get’ Roald” in contrast to children—referred to as a single entity—who “love his books to bits.” A tone of adulation prevails with the assumption that it’s shared by the intended audience, presumably of British adults who will understand the many cultural references. A broader audience, however, may enjoy leafing through the extensive illustrations from different editions of the book as well as photographs of actors, performances and products.
Mainly for die-hard Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans who want more than the novel itself. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14 & up)