The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More

Henry Sugar and SIX

…But not exactly six more, for me anyways:

The Boy Who Talked With Animals

This is the first truly odd story I’ve read of Dahl’s so far. A man vacations in Jamaica and tries to have a relaxing time, such as reading a book and watching a lizard-fight which also could have been a mating ritual in between paragraphs (I may be exaggerating the moment, but the idea is plain). He then becomes distracted by a canoe having come in with a surplus of fish. Then he realizes it’s because the fisherman has overturned a turtle and is trying to keep the crowd at bay.

One man goes so far as to bid for the turtle’s shell to be shot down and told the turtle was already bought by the hotel manager. The man meanwhile, reminisces how old the turtle must be and what ages he lived through and how much older he must be than these petty humans bidding for his shell. It’s quite similar to the Rudyard Kipling elephant story.

The crowd of men then decide to drag the turtle to the hotel themselves rather than wait for the staff to come and do it. The fisherman protests, but to no avail. Then a little boy’s shrieks of despair make the men stop and wonder where the screams were coming from. The men try to ignore him, but the father explains the boy’s reacting is caused by his love for animals. His father convinces the manager to accept being paid off and letting the turtle go. Then the next day the boy goes missing. Then hilariously becomes similar to Whale Rider when natives see the boy riding the turtle’s back in the ocean from their canoe. When coaxing the boy back with them doesn’t work, they inform the manager and he suggests they all go back out and look for the boy again.

The boy isn’t found until a year later by some Americans who are off the coast of a small island and spot a boy and a turtle who, when the boy senses he’s being watched, hops on the turtle and swims around the island to disappear yet again. The ending leads the reader to believe the boy made his most happiest of decisions and lived there ever after.

The Hitch-hiker

A man in a nice car picks up a hitch-hiker traveling through London to get to a Derby race. The hitch-hiker gets the man to drive his car 120 mph, gets pulled over by a cop and then discovers the “hitcher” is talented in the “butter-finger” capacity. After giving the ride-giver a demonstration, by slowly revealing the items he nicked off him whilst in the car, he explains why he goes to the race-track to “rob from the rich” with his “finger-smith” talent, only going after those cashing in for the “large bundles” and the rich-looking. They both get off free and easy since it ends a bit openly, but still entertainingly.

I unfortunately don’t have enough patience to even bother reading this collection of short-stories, let alone for the namesake, so I’ll have to be satisfied with the couple I have read, and move on to the “sure thing” of Matilda. To read my review of James & The Giant Peach.

James and the Giant Peach

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I read this when I was in Grammar school, but definitely needed a refresher, since I’ve started to confuse the movie with the reading of the book and which is unacceptable to me now. So I’ve decided to continue so I can give a thorough review, which as a child, I wouldn’t have done. James has happy beginnings with his parents, before their accident in London, which surprisingly reminded me of Madagascar in reverse, with it being from a human perspective, which isn’t original at all, but makes the scene more funny and interesting. Anyways, revisiting this book has brought back the memories of the same pictures from the book I read when I was young and it’s also so vividly told, now I remember why it was so dream-like to me as a child. The illustrations being in black and white and sketch-form are as I remember and whilst normally I’d be annoyed, these are comforting and quite delicate in form. They also remind me of Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman sketches due to the eyes being black and scratched out a bit.

James is mistreated by his Aunts, as I remember and physically abused. He is forced to work and imagines the “good old days” with his little friends and having fun with his hobby’s. Unfortunately, James reminisces so hard he begins to get upset, which brings his Aunts unwelcome attention on him to where he is allowed to stop working to cower in some bushes, still upset. This is where he meets a strange old man who gives him a bag of what are described as glowing stones. He gives him good advice and rushes James on his way so he can take advantage of this unique and easy-to-go-wrong opportunity. Quite similar to Charlie and the ticket. Except this “Charlie” is much too young and clumsy to actually make use of this magical gift, at least not in a straight forward fashion. James falls and loses the “bag o’ wisps” and gets sent back to his original task of log-splitting, until one of the Aunts spots the peach growing on their tree. The Aunts take the opportunity in making money off of the monstrous fruit whilst poor James has to sit in his room and watch the perfect time to make friends slowly pass him by to be thrust and locked outside to clean up the mess the people left without even having a meal first.

The other thing which is wonderful about “Peach” are the descriptions of it. They sound so tasty and when James first touches it, how he likens it to a mouse. And of course the buggy creatures interactions with each other were fun to recount. Once James listens to everyone’s first conversation with him, he starts to warm up to the idea of being accepted as one of their group. I also was unaware James gets cussed at by one of the bugs as well, but James is unmoved, so I might as well be too. I must say Dahl certainly was fond of his poems! The peach escapes the Aunts yard by rolling itself away and over the Aunts themselves.

Charlie’s Factory even makes an appearance during the peach’s departure. After a rocky beginning, the peach lands in the ocean. Then to escape some large fish, it’s up to James to get them out of it by getting Silkworm to make some silk and then have a seagull pull them out of there. They miraculously are surrounded by dozens and are now airborne on their way to a new beginning. On the way he learns about his new friends and grows, as hopefully a child would be able to grasp at an early age. When the peach starts to drip, they somehow make it to a city before anything terrible happens, but something crazy does happen with the Empire State Building. Then of course the ending promoting sharing, but is still sweet and not contrived as much as the junk put out lately. The more I read of Dahl, the more I realize how strange, fantastic, and day-dream-y his writing is. I’m glad I finally read through his “best of”. Here’s my review of, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #4)

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I’m starting where I left off after years of not reading this series. I then remember why I started it: Angus the cat, her eccentric little sister with an odd habit of calling Georgia a,”Bad boy.”, (the kid is weird and all Georgia’s strange friends help prove it, too). Georgia is still googly-eyed over the Sex God, Robbie and is dealing with normal teenage doldrums of parental flip outs and a ditsy friend. Also, Georgia’s self-involved yet hilarious considerations towards her friends and how involved she is with high school social behavior, steeped in stupidity, is easy to tolerate since every character is mad as a hatter and going through puberty, (which could be part of the cause of said madness). It’s mega-ly (which I know isn’t a real word, but am inspired by Rennison) entertaining continuing on with this series, I’m glad I’m able to revisit it, without having to go back to the beginning.

Georgia also has some way with words, which I’ve forgotten about, it’s cutesy and slightly jilting, but amusing usually since it doesn’t happen every sentence, but quite a bit often. She’s fantastically sarcastic in a dead-pan straight-forward way; It’s what I appreciate about her character. I admire Rennison’s talent with double entendres and making child-fluffed Monty Python. Also Georgia’s parent’s are bloody hilarious individually, but I do quite like her father’s character who insults her through his weird jokes. Many of the minor characters are also unbelievably hilarious. I particularly liked when Georgia goes ga-ga over a French boy and makes a girl laugh for 5 minutes because of Georgia’s reaction of said boy.  Sometimes there are moments which make me want to laugh out loud but I resist the urge, due to being too tired or it being too late at night to laugh at the volume necessary to give it justice.

Georgia is so transparently kooky sometimes, which is one of the reasons why it’s so funny to read about her. For instance, Georgia has a moment freaking herself out seeing her own nose, close-up. In other cases, it might take one back to the kind of dorky ideas one had in school with their goofy buddies agreeing hastily, “Oh my God, that will be freaking’ hilarious!” Plus Angus’ kitty drama is one of a kind, “Scottish wild cat” indeed..Rawr. Georgia continues to suppress some feelings over others, because she’s a child and it’s the more fun decision of the two she has to make. The fact I see it more obviously makes it more fun laughing at the odd-ball plans she implements. It will be fun to see how it all goes down, though. Then Georgia and Jas (her peculiar buddy throughout her adventures) run into some perv-y 9-year-old boys trying to get a look up their skirts as they go up stairs in Paris. Georgia “side-steps” the possibility of a risque moment pretty gracefully, as I perceive myself giggling under my breath. Those are the moments I cherish in these stories (which there are plenty of).

It has child-like moments comparable to Monty Python, like I mentioned before, when one of Georgia’s buddies, whilst all of them are wearing “gag” big Berets when coming back from Paris, everyone is wondering if the reaction of the Parisians to them bidding them adieu is genuine and them sitting back and noticing Georgia’s buddy Rosie is wearing a false mustache, as well. The more I read, the more I realize how smart of a story Rennison has created here. The characters all have funny quirks, Georgia is displaying her “red bottomosity” quality, which she happens to share with her mother, genetically, that is. (It trips me out how cleverly done this was and it only makes me happier I found this series when it still counted: childhood.) Rennison even had the foresight to quote Douglas Adams near the end of the book. By the end Georgia is dealing with Robbie’s foray into concern for the environment and has to deal with the events regarding them which will affect their future relationship. Also the useful and amusing Glossary of “British” words are a kick to go through. A delightful continuation. Here’s a link to how I felt about the first in the series, it’s blurb-like in nature.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

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The story begins by describing three farmers, who are all reputed to being mean. Mr. Fox lives above their farms in the wood with his wife and children. When the family is hungry, Mr. Fox makes use of all three farms for their produce and none of the farmers are happy about being targeted. One thing I am enjoying about reading the story after seeing the movie is, now I hear George Clooney as the fox, which makes it more engaging. I’m also noticing Dahl has a lyrical way of writing even if he’s not laying down a poem. I’ve started to truly enjoy this story and at this point have finished the 4th chapter. Mr. Fox gets shot at when the three farmers discover his home and so he, his wife, and children barely escape, when Mr. Fox has a bright idea that proved to his wife and children what makes him a “fantastic fox”.

Once the three farmer’s go for the mechanical shovels to dig the foxes out of their hole, it begins reminding me of a more complex Three Little Pigs. The three farmer’s were so determined and mad and stubborn about killing Mr. Fox they began making oaths to resist giving up until they’ve reached their goal. Mrs. Fox becomes too weak to go on anymore adventures with Mr. Fox, so the children volunteer themselves so they can prove how smart and brave they are to Mr. Fox who is almost immediately satisfied by their excitement and insistence on helping.

Also the play on words is quite subtle, if the reader doesn’t pay attention closely, it’s easily missed. I noticed it most plainly in Chapter 10. After being quite clever again, he sends one of his children back with a wonderful gift whilst he and his other children continue on another mission to set up a plan involving more digging, whilst Mrs. Fox uncovers new hope once her child shows up with the rejuvenating feast. They then run into Badger, who’s son and wife, Mole, Rabbit, and Weasel, plus their wives and children are all in the same predicament and Mr. Fox let’s him pity himself for a moment before inviting them all along to the incredible feast Mrs. Fox is preparing. Then, again like the Three Little Pigs, Mr. Fox cleverly breaks into the second farmer’s storehouse. Once they start listing different meats to swipe, I’m all in, but then Mr. Fox get’s down on one of his children when he suggests taking some carrots, gets called a twerp, until it’s explained that he was thinking of the rabbits. That seemed a bit harsh, if not a little bit funny. Before it’s time in the self-deprecating parental-joke department.

After getting back to the tunnel, Mr. Fox sends two more of his children back to their mother with their loot and the message Mr. Fox and Co. will return after one last task. Badger and Mr. Fox talk about stooping to “evil” people’s levels and I must agree. There is certainly no need for it, which Dahl apparently wanted to get across in this strange and fantastic tale–or lack thereof, (Bad pun). Mr. Fox runs into Rat who’s guarding the last farmer’s stock of food, trying to turn Mr. Fox away, won’t be ignored. Dahl is also fond of alliteration, which is fun to run into periodically. When they reach the third stockroom the other more European happenstance occurs when young Fox takes a swig of alcoholic beverage, told to stop as Mr. Fox takes a swig himself. At least it’s vague enough not to red flag any youngster’s who happen to encounter this story, if that’s a sensitive subject.

They escape the human without incident, also being able to swipe their last piece of loot. Mr. Fox and gang rejoin Mrs. Fox and all the families in one dining room area with all the food Mr. Fox and said crew took. The scene straight from an “Animal Thanksgiving”. Once Mr. Fox makes his speech at the table it starts to remind me of Disney’s, Robin Hood. He vows to have a town constructed underground since they are all marvelous diggers and are welcome and should stick together. Mr. Fox then offers to do all the shopping for everyone and live in an idyllic underground town with everyone mentioned. The three farmer’s have a moronic ending by still awaiting Mr. Fox’s return out of the hole. Well worth the read, quite entertaining. To read my review of, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac #1

Johnny THM

A little boy, Squee, neglected by his parents who wish him kidnapped is the main character, and his toy bear, Shmee, his only friend also brings up Squee’s suppressed thoughts of being shunned and trying to convince his early conscience it’s wrong thinking his parents are evil. He meets Johnny when he enters through his window looking for cut disinfectant. He becomes interested in the boy and decides to return to talk with him after stabbing Shmee repeatedly after having a heated “discussion” with Johnny.

In the beginning Johnny acts a bit like Jack Sparrow, with his eccentric and high-strung behavior. When a survey-man comes to get the neighborhood’s thoughts on how to proceed with a protective course of action, Johnny decides to “befriend” him, but unfortunately for him, not in a long term fashion. Then I remember Nail Bunny from a vector design someone came up with before I knew of the comic, now I’m intrigued to learn what sorts of thoughts Nail Bunny was saddled with. Poor Johnny also has a complex over the word “wacky”; guy will fly off the handle if being referenced as such. He has no tolerance for simple-minded loud-mouths; I know too many people in my own life quite similar so it was easier to laugh at some of the violence more than others.

Intriguing start to this series. Engaging and mostly notebook sketch-style, it still has some more clean artistic drawings and it’s cutesy in a violent way at times as well, which isn’t enough to make me read the rest of the series since I’m much more interested in continuing Squee’s story. Watch for updates for more Jhonen Vasquez, because I’m not finished with him yet!

The Twits

Twits

Mr. Twit is overly hairy, stinky, and full of food in his stomach and beard. A disgusting introduction to a crazy, short story. Meanwhile, his other half, Mrs. Twit is an ugly person, inside and out. She has a glass eye which gives away her ugliness for anyone who needs a visual warning. The Twits are “fans” of practical joking each other. If one surprises the other, it becomes a contest of who can out-disgust or surprise the other. One day the joking becomes more intricate. Mr. Twit decides to give his wife one helluva smack down in return for her getting him to eat worms. She believes she is shrinking and the only cure is for her to be stretched by a bunch of balloons attached to an iron ring which Mrs. Twit is tied from, by the ankles.

In this story, Jackie Gleason would be jealous, because Mr. Twit steals his wish. He sends his wife to the moon. After she gets back, Bird Pie Day is right around the corner and Mr. Twit coats The Big Dead Tree with sticky stuffs and pries whatever type of birds get stuck off of it in the morning. This time, though his plan was foiled by some meddling kids, who in the end run bare-ass back to their mommies and daddies.

We are then taken into the back story behind the monkeys. Mr. Twit was a monkey trainer early on and he wants to become a success so they could do everything upside-down. He basically tortured the poor family of monkeys, but of course that’s only the start. The Twits go and buy guns when Mr. Twit’s repeated plan of painting different areas with glue for the birds to roost fails, repeatedly.

Muggle-Wump, the Papa monkey comes up with the plan of getting the Roly-Poly Bird friend to grab the cage key and set his family free, which he does. Instead of straight escape though, he wants some revenge so he and his bird friends and family enter the Twits home and Animal Farm-style, practical joke the Twits living room before they arrive.

The Twits fall for the idea they are already upside-down and glue their heads to the floor so they would be right-side up from the ceiling living-room floor. The monkeys again make their real escape until they are told of the cold winters, so they then decide to hitch a ride on Roly-Poly back to Africa. When the Twits fate is revealed in the end, everyone celebrated. Dark, funny and a quick read. For my review of, Matilda.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

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Dahl brings the story right where Chocolate Factory ends. With Wonka’s elevator, I’m reminded of The Doctor without the time-travel bit, due to the elevator being able to inexplicably hold a bed with the other three grandparents still in it. I can also understand why people say this one is so hard to get through and is much darker than “factory”. Well I don’t believe it’s necessarily more serious, as the same amount, it’s how one goes into this second story thinking one will be following Charlie just as closely; not so, dear readers!

A close look at the President and the conspiracies his handlers get him to believe are gone through. For instance, the President is informed the group in the elevator are trying to bomb the President’s new Space Hotel, because he was the first to get one made; all a ruse, of course. It’s also quite goofy with its play on names and words, which is why the younger generation might find more amusement out of its bizarre story-line. Although it does take a turn for the “old-timey” racist sense of humor due to the common stereotypes. Once I began to understand the humor, it became much easier getting fascinated by where the story would lead. Wonka is as crazy as ever.

It has a fantastical element similar to The Little Prince, except this doesn’t have the same fairy tale quality the latter has. They even “run in to” an alien, which turns into a strange sort of invasion, for the one, was not alone. Once they escape by going back to the Chocolate Factory, Wonka puts it into his head to somehow get Charlie’s other grandparents out of bed. An introduction to another Wonka invention is shown which is the same idea as the fountain of youth, the “horrors” of the debacle being more gruesome if it included the updated medical knowledge society has accrued, and if it weren’t aimed at the kiddies. Which is also unfortunately why there isn’t a big pay off with one of the Oompa Loompa songs which would have been totally vulgar and hilarious if made today. When Charlie’s grandparents getting a taste of mischief with the fountain-of-youth-like Wonka product, it’s a reminder of the second elevator’s possible collision with the first, again.

Whilst dealing with one of the grandparents getting “subtracted”, Charlie and Wonka go to Minusland to fetch her. It’s almost a purgatory sort of situation where mathematics is a torture device. (Then there’s a scene near the end which reminds me of Charlie at school with his teacher and he’s helping him put in a chemistry experiment with drops of liquid.) It ends with a fizzle though when Charlie, Wonka and the gang get invitations to the White House and Charlie makes another obvious suggestion and closes with them all on their way to shop for clothes and then on to the White House! Funny and dated. For my review of, The Twits.