- File Size: 7645 KB
- Print Length: 175 pages
- Publisher: Puffin Books (January 22, 2009)
- Publication Date: January 22, 2009
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00F9F0TV6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,826 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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-- Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
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"Every weekday evening the whole school would sit for one hour in the Main Hall, between six and seven o'clock, to do Prep. The Master on duty for the week would be in charge of Prep, which meant that he sat high up on a dais at the top end of the hall and kept order ... The rules of Prep were simple but strict. You were forbidden to look up from your work, and you were forbidden to talk ..."
This simple descriptive passage took me immediatley back to St Joe's Seminary in Grand Rapids when I was just 13 or so, and sat at my study hall desk right next to my friend Tom Cassleman. We often skirted these strict rules by raising the tops of our desks, ostensibly to get a book or pen, so we could whisper to each other or pass notes, smirking and huffing silently to each other, immensely pleased with ourselves at fooling the priest "master" up on the dais in the center of the hall. Ah, yes, Mr Dahl got it right, even though he himself was a fearful little boy of only nine in his tale, which took place in an English school over thirty years before. I could relate, as could any St Joe's student from those years in the 1950s. As for the canings, they were gone by the 50s in American schools, but we could be sent to see the dreaded Dean of Discipline, Fr Leo, if we were caught for any infractions of the rules. And I did hear rumors of a certain perhaps predatory short Monsignor who invited the smaller boys into his rooms to "counsel" them. Thankfully, since I was already over six feet tall, I never got the call. Another passage in Dahl's story which I immediately felt a kinship with was the one where he talked of the propensity of doctors and dentists in his day who never bothered with anesthetic when operating on children.
"Pain was something we were expected to endure. Anaesthetics and pain-killing injections were not much used in those days. Dentists, in particular, never bothered with them ..."
Yup, I had an old-school dentist, even in the 50s, who didn't believe in "wasting" novocaine on kids. The prevailing theory was that kids didn't really feel pain. I remember crying every time I got a filling, and I got a lot of them back in those pre-fluoride days. Dr Brown would frown and tell me to "stop being such a baby." Bastard! Once again, Dahl understood and got it right. If it isn't obvious yet, I loved this book. On to its sequel now, GOING SOLO. Watch for my review of that soon. - Tim Bazzett, author of the Reed City Boy trilogy.
Top international reviews
Much of the book details his schooldays, including unhappy years as a boarder at a repressive prep school in Weston super Mare and subsequent time at Repton, where he eventually became a respected sports team ‘captain of fives’ and the squash team and the only-ever sports team captain not made a prefect due to his rebellious, anti-establishment nature.
Spliced in-between the schoolday stories are tales of the family’s annual summer holiday expeditions to Norway to live on remote idyllic islands for weeks at a time, a hair-raising first experience in a motor car driven by his elder sister who crashed and injured young Roald so badly that his nose was almost severed, and having his adenoids removed with a sharp knife and without anaesthetic by a local doctor, after which he walked home (!) with his mother.
Dahl is such an excellent writer that he makes everything interesting. He deploys great economy of language and has an engaging, conversational writing style. The book is basically highlights of the author’s first 20 years, including some highly traumatic incidents, always recounted with humour and great self-awareness and decorated with Dahl’s own distinctive cartoon-sketches of some of the episodes. It’s an easy read and you can finish the book in a few hours.
You will also likely want to read the follow-up book ‘Going Solo’ which details the author’s time working in Tanzania in the late 1930s, training as a fighter pilot in the RAF and experience of combat in a Hurricane in the Mediterranean theatre facing the numerically superior forces of the Luftwaffe.
I have been a fan of Roald Dahl all my life, I Love his stories and feel I shall be revisiting many of my old favourites Very soon indeed, as well as exploring some that I haven't yet read.
What a Wonderful autobiography of a Wonderful man, with such a Loving family background and so intrigued by the world around him, coupled by some extracts of letters written to his Mother throughout his life make for a compelling read. Learning of his lust to travel and experience new countries from such a young age, alongside his photography skills to capture what he finds along the way are truly inspirational.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone, fan of his or not, there will be something in here to capture your interest and imagination.
I love Dahl and this tale of his childhood reminds me of why. I can also see where he got his ideas from. Cadbury sending chocolate testing boxes, to his school..... : )
Just a footnote, In Scandinavia Roald is pronounced Roo’ald.
This is my first book ever of Roald Dahl; and what an introduction. He has a way of writing, which creates vivid pictures in your mind. Reading the 'great mouse plot' was hilarious. There is something charming about reading this book and it reminds me of my childhood days and brings a smile to my face.
I am now reading the short stories book (completely unexpected tales) of Roald Dahl and am amazed with the macabre stories there.
From simple childhood stories to dark mysterious stories, no doubt Roald is a brilliant writer.
I don't know exactly what it is, but Roald Dahl has always held a certain kind of magic for me, and as my own children grow up I hope that they find that magic too.