Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
by Roald Dahl, illus. by Quentin Blake
Charlie Bucket’s Grandpa Joe tells him magnificent stories about Mr. Willy Wonka (“a magician with chocolate!”), whose chocolate factory is the biggest in the world. They can see it from the small apartment Charlie shares with his parents and both sets of grandparents. The odd thing is that no one ever sees workers going in or coming out—Mr. Wonka fired all of his workers when he feared that spies had infiltrated his factory. So how does it keep running? One day, Willy Wonka issues an invitation for five lucky children to find out: that five Golden Tickets will be hidden inside five Wonka candy bars’ wrapping, and the lucky five children who find them will not only be allowed inside the factory, but at the end of the tour, they will be given a lifetime supply of chocolate and candy. Days go by, and four Golden Tickets are found by very unpleasant , mostly spoiled children. Then, on the last day before the ticketed event, Charlie gets the last Golden Ticket. Not only does Charlie, accompanied by his Grandpa Joe, learn the secret of how the factory runs, he learns about all of the amazing inventions Mr. Wonka has created in service of chocolate and sweets galore. But in the process, the children also go through a test the likes of which Charlie has never seen before, and the prize for passing it is far bigger than anyone ever imagined. Roald Dahl has converted even the most reluctant readers to his body of work because his books convey a ceaseless belief in children, in their power to absorb life’s experiences and, as long as they remain open-minded, to grow from those experiences. Even some adults can continue to grow, if they are open-minded like Grandpa Joe. Quentin Blake's high-energy pen-and-ink drawings match the fast-paced plot.