One of the best things about teaching children’s literature is getting to revisit old favourites – books I loved when I was tiny, some of which I’ve read several times throughout my life, some of which I haven’t been back to in years. In the second category is the book I’m just about to teach – George’s Marvellous Medicine, by the godfather of children’s books, Roald Dahl.
Although it isn’t quite as famous as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, or Fantastic Mr Fox, George’s Marvellous Medicine is still classic Dahl, with disgusting potions, a clever child hero, and characters so gruesome they could ooze off the page. I’m talking about the villain of the piece, George’s Grandma.
George’s Grandma is the subject of what is, in my opinion, one of Dahl’s greatest descriptions ever: “She was a selfish grumpy old woman. She had pale brown teeth and a small puckered-up mouth like a dog’s bottom.” It soon becomes clear that George’s Grandma is just as nasty as she looks; she treats George badly, bossing him around and criticising him for growing. Like so many of Dahl’s villains, George’s Grandma gets her just desserts; if you haven’t read the book, I won’t spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that Roald Dahl had a strong sense of irony.
What’s your favourite Roald Dahl book? Do you have any other old favourites that you haven’t read for a long time?