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Fun for all ages but it needs parental supervision
on November 29, 2016
This is a very naughty fun book for people of all ages. A novella more than a proper novel, George's Marvellous Medicine tells what happens when Georges gets fed-up with his witchy grandma and decides to make a "medicine" to poison her. He takes everything he finds in the house, cosmetics, toiletries, laundry products, animal medicines and painting, mixes them all, and then weird "magic" starts to happen.
The character of George has a mix of naughtiness, good heart and innocence that will delight children and adults alike. The grandma is hateable from the very beginning, and George's parents are quite normal people.
George's Marvellous Medicine is more for early teens than for children as the mere concept of poisoning, vengeance, and murder seems a bit too complex to leave the small ones to evaluate on their own, even though this is children fiction. The characters seem quite normal, not part of a fairy-tale or fantasy story, so that is the main problem to me. Dahl himself saw the possible repercussions and included a note at the beginning of the book warning children not to do these things at home. You don't want any children to think that mixing chemicals and feeding people with them is the right thing to do to deal with annoying personalities. The book needs of supervision if your child is small.
Most children books have an embedded teaching, no matter the fun is what attracts children to them. Personally, I would redirect my child's attention by asking some questions at the end of the book, something like:
1/ Georges hates his grandma, because she is a witch, right? Isn't potion-making what witches do? Isn't George's behaviour the same as witches show?
2/ Why do you think grandma doesn't want children to grow? Do you think she was happier when she was George's age?
3/ Why is grandma so grumpy? Is because she is frail and alone? Is because she has mobility problems? Is because nobody pays attention to her? Is because she is sick? Is because of all it?
4/ Why does grandma get so excited when the "medicine" start to work? Why does she get grumpy again when the family start paying attention to the farm animals and not to her?
5/ What would happen if all the farm animals of the planet were fed with the gigantic potion? Would farmers need to use the potion again?
6/ Where does grandma go in the end?
Dahl's narrative in this work is simple but extremely playful with some tongue twisters that reminded me of Dr Seuss.
The illustrations by Quentin Blake are very sketchy, but also fluid and successfully illustrative. I like the way George is depicted, as somewhat matches my mental image of the character.
The Kindle edition is flawless, something that always makes me happy, especially because this is an expensive-ish 134-page e-book. This edition includes a bonus preview of two chapters of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at the end, a brief story of Penguin book and other promotional stuff
A very enjoyable amusing quick read, but supervision is needed for small children.