Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Great Glass ElevatorGoodreads: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Series: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory #2
Source: Library
Published: 1972


Mr. Wonka has brought Charlie and his Grandpa Joe home to share the good news–Mr. Wonka has given Charlie the chocolate factory!  But now his great glass elevator has lost control and is hurtling himself and the entire Bucket family toward space.  Together they will fight the terrible alien Knids and explore the famed Space Hotel.  But will they ever find their way home?


Though this book attempts to recapture the magic of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the strangeness here seems forced, as does Mr. Wonka’s continued nonchalance in the face of danger he creates.  It appears that the magic lies not in the oddities of Mr. Wonka but in the marvelous inventions he creates.  Take Wonka out of his chocolate factory and you take away his charm.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator has no defined plot, but rather follows the adventure of Mr. Wonka and the Bucket family as they hurtle into space in the titular elevator.  They step aboard the new Space Hotel, where readers are supposed to find Mr. Wonka’s deceitfulness funny–he convinces the world that he and the Buckets are dangerous aliens so they can help themselves to some food in the kitchen.  Then they run away from aliens for an absurdly long time.  Finally they return back to the chocolate factory, but the promise of this moment is short-lived.

Readers catch no more than a glimpse of other rooms in the chocolate factory.  No marshmallow pillows or luminous lollipops here.  Instead we see the dark side of the factory and of the Bucket family.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is such a delightful story not only because of the chocolate but also because we can root for the good heroes to triumph.  Here, we realize that even the Buckets have some pettiness in them, some greed.  Watching them fight and seeing the dark places Mr. Wonka must go to to save them is really quite sad.

I found myself bored by the Knids and disappointed by the lack of further exploration of the chocolate factory.  Dahl relies on Wonka’s weirdness to drive this story, but oddity can only take a story so far.  This sequel lacks the magic and the heart of the original tale.

Krysta 64

2 thoughts on “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

  1. Lisa says:

    I read this book as a kid and remember thinking it was scary. I tried reading it with my son a few years ago, after reading him Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (which he loved) — but I had to stop. I got to the chapter, fairly early on, that’s about the President and is just filled with the worst sorts of ethnic jokes, and I literally could not get the words to come out of my mouth. Had to just stop and pick a different book.


    • Krysta says:

      I’m an adult and I was scared by this book–but mostly by Mr. Wonka. He’s playing with life and death and he literally does not care. And this is considered comedy?

      The ethnic jokes were offputting, as well. It’s sometimes remarkable what we’re wiling to overlook in something that’s considered a classic.


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