Book Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Rating: ★★★★☆

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a lighthearted Cinderella fantasy about a sweet little poor boy who is one of five lucky children chosen to tour Mr. Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory. This factory is the topic of much speculation, since no humans are ever seen going in or out, but it remains the source of the most delectable confections known to man.

The children and their parents discover that the factory is populated by funny dwarfs called Oompa-Loompas, and each room is filled with candy more delicious than the last.  Throughout the tour, Charlie’s good character (an effect of good upbringing by a loving family) strikes a contrast against the four spoiled, unpleasant children, who continually get themselves into hilarious trouble by misbehaving.

The story is wonderfully well written, and although it is lighthearted in tone it is a true moral tale — probably too moralistic for some readers.  Charlie, like the traditional Cinderella, is almost too sweet, and the four bad children are ludicrously obnoxious.  There are some intense moments: Charlie’s family lives in danger of starvation, and in a few episodes the reader is left to wonder whether the bad children will come to real harm.  Parents ought to use discernment when introducing the story to sensitive readers.  And, of course, candy is a central theme, highlighted by Charlie’s real hunger.  Those who are sensitive to sugar or given to gluttony may want to avoid the story for this reason.

Aside from these points, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a rollicking, lighthearted fantasy, full of humor and imagination, which is a delight to read aloud.  If parents decide to let their children watch either of the movie versions, I recommend they read the book first, because the movie interpretations are quite different from the spirit of the original story.

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Publication Information: Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Blake, Quentin (Illustrator). Puffin. 1964. ISBN: 0142410314.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 08-12, Classicalhomeschooling.org, Honey For a Child's Heart, Read-Aloud Handbook
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Posted on May 14, 2010


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