Saturday, 12 October 2013

1980s Nostalgia: The Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

I still remember the first time I read this short novella for younger readers. I was eight years old, almost nine, and our school librarian, Mrs Peterson (who has subsequently gone on to have quite a successful beading supplies store but that is another story,) chose it as a book to read out loud to my grade three class. This was the second Roald Dahl book I had ever read (the first being a picture book titled The Enormous Crocodile,) and in the months to come I would feel sad when I heard of the authors death. In the years following, I would read many of his other books for children including my personal favourites, Matilda and The BFG and his volumes of short stories for adults. 

The Fantastic Mr Fox contains many of the elements that make Roald Dahl's books a hit. The story is darkly comical and has the usual underdogs (or in this case, underfoxes,) versus the gross and selfish farmers. Mr Fox is a clever and witty man who wants only enough food to feed his wife and children. Boggis, Bunce and Bean are all greedy, selfish and unhygienic farmers who are fed up with having their live poultry stolen. So they come up with a twisted and obsessive plan to outsmart Mr Fox. Who, naturally, finds a way to outsmart them ...

This is a brilliant, funny children's book that I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed revisiting. I'm not to keen on seeing the 2009 film of the same name (to date, I've only seen two worthwhile adaptions of Dahl's work, and a lot of unworthy ones) but as far as nostalgia trips go, Roald Dahl's books don't disappoint and certainly stand the test of time. The only surprise was that the edition I found at my local secondhand bookstore was not illustrated by Quentin Blake, whose illustrations I remember being a feature inside Dahl's work. That said, illustrator Tony Ross does a brilliant job of bringing Mr Fox and his friends and foes to life. 

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