"The best children's stories are wisdom dipped in art and words." -Peter Reynolds

Friday, April 11, 2014


Boy is the autobiography of Roald Dahl! It was published in 1984 by Heinemann and covers his life from birth until his first job working for Royal Dutch Shell. There is a second book that is a memoir, entitled Going Solo that picks up where Boy left off. Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a little girl so naturally, I wanted to know about his life!

Roald Dahl had a more interesting life in his childhood than I have in my whole 25 years of living. I'm serious. This autobiography begins with the history of his family including his Uncle, Papa, mother, and five brothers and sisters in Wales. We then are introduced to Dahl's childhood from ages 6-7 in Kindergarten and then 7-9 at Llandaff Cathedral School in Wales. It is then that we hear the stories about the "Sweet Shop" with the nasty Mrs. Pratchett and his infamous "Great Mouse Plot." We also learn about the family vacations to Norway to visit family. In the next section entitled "St. Peter's," Dahl  is 9-13 years old and at boarding school. We hear stories of the terrible Headmaster, Matron (which reminded me very much of Matilda),  Captain Hardcastle, and Dahl's adventures in school. While there, he was actually in a brutal "motor-car" accident which sliced his nose almost clean off! The next section is entitled Repton and Shell where Dahl is ages 13-20. We follow him  as he goes to Repton "big school" and plays numerous sports (of which I've never before heard of). He also gets to be a taste tester for Cadbury chocolates (Pick me!) and gets the job of toilet seat warmer (No, thanks). I couldn't make this stuff up, right?! This all really happened to Roald Dahl. In the end of this book we learn that Dahl has gotten a job with the Shell Company and has made it as a businessman. At least for now...

Boy had me laughing at loud because of Dahl's hilarious recounting of his experiences. However, what I think I enjoyed the most was all the history and interesting facts about those times. Teachers used to "spank" children with canes?! No anesthesia for taking out tonsils and adenoids?! Outhouses?! The real photographs combined with Dahl's infamous sketches really were the icing on the cake. I was completely interested in the book at all times. No wonder he has been such a successful writer. If there is ever a fun autobiography to read, it's this one!

I have to say though, at first, I wondered how interesting Roald Dahl's life could really be. I was wrong! Boy is written with such humor and honesty that one can only expect from Roald Dahl. It was historically accurate and the technique of storytelling was fascinating for readers. I truly enjoyed reading about his life and I plan on reading Going Solo as well.

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