Author: Roald Dahl
Target Audience: 8-12 years
Publication Year: 1984
Setting: Wales/England/Norway; 1920s and ’30s
A Favorite Quote: “When writing about oneself, one must strive to be truthful. Truth is more important than modesty. I must tell you, therefore, that it was I and I alone who had the idea for the great and daring Mouse Plot.”
My One Sentence Summary: Whether he was hatching a Great Mouse Plot or spending a summer on the islands of Norway, Roald Dahl’s childhood memories are marked by adventure, fun…and a touch of danger. (Headmasters, Matrons and Boazers, oh my!)
What I loved about this book: Ever wondered where the inspiration for the Trunchbull came from? Or how Roald Dahl dreamed up the Chocolate Factory run by Willy Wonka? As expected, Roald Dahl’s childhood contains some memorably bizarre episodes (like the time his nose was almost sliced clean off his face in a car accident). These stories not only helped me understand the creative and fertile mind of Dahl, but they stuck in my mind long after reading. The book is a unique blend of happy and sad and funny memories interspersed with small reflective fragments.
Major themes: Petty abuse of power by those in authority; kindness towards the vulnerable; growing up
Who should read this book: Though the book is labeled as 8-12 years, it is also entertaining for teens and adults. Dahl’s memoirs provide startling insight into life in Great Britain in the 1920’s/30’s—an especially great choice for anyone interested in history or the British boarding school system.
Going Solo, covers Roald Dahl’s time working for Shell in Africa and then as a fighter pilot in the RAF during the Second World War