My Favorite Roald Dahl Novel (Classic Remarks)

Classic Remarks


Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.


Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!

You can find more information and the list of weekly prompts here.

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My Favorite Roald Dahl Book Discussion Banner


Krysta asked me to answer the prompt this week, so I find it a little bit awkward to admit…I do not have a favorite Roald Dahl novel. I have read very few of Dahl’s books, and I have mixed feelings about the ones that I have.

The only three books I can ever choose from here are Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches.


I have a feeling many people would choose Matilda as their favorite because of the charmingly bookish protagonist, the hint of magic, and the delicious comeuppance that the villains experience by the end of the novel. I’ve actually read this book more than once, so I must like something about it (though it’s been years since my last reread), but because the story centers around child abuse, I can’t exactly call reading it an enjoyable experience. It’s one of those books where I almost can’t stand to reread it because I know so many terrible things have to the protagonist, and I don’t want to see it.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I believe I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory only once, and I probably spent most of the book trying to compare and contrast it with the movie (the Gene Wilder version, though I have seen the newer one with Johnny Depp). Here, I see the appeal of a book about a chocolate factory. There’s practically a whole subgenre of children’s books focused on chocolate/candy/sweet factories or shops. But the book, like most of Dahl’s work, is often simply weird and dark in ways that are sometimes surprisingly.

The Witches

Finally, I also read The Witches years ago, and I remember finding it interesting but also genuinely frightening. (As a kid, I was scared of practically everything, so I don’t know how much credence I should give that reaction as adult; I would like to revisit the novel sometime to find out.) As Krysta points out in her upcoming review of the graphic novel adaptation (to be published here on the blog tomorrow!), there is some light and warmth in the book, particularly in the character of the grandmother, but the fact that the witches really do get around to harming children was pretty terrifying to young me.


So while I admire Dahl’s work for being unique and have always found it interesting how dark his novels are in ways that are unusual for most children’s books…I’m not sure I would ever say I liked them. “Weird and dark” isn’t generally my preferred aesthetic in the books I pick up! I’ve only read three of Dahl’s books, and I’ve never had a real urge to pick up more. If someone wants to throw out some suggestions in the comments, however, maybe I’ll check out some of his other works in the future.


29 thoughts on “My Favorite Roald Dahl Novel (Classic Remarks)

  1. salonimore1702 says:

    “Matilda” and “The Witches” are two of my favourites too! I also really loved “Danny, the Champion of the World” because of the relationships between the characters (though the main plotline is a bit concerning now that I think about it). His memoirs “Boy” and “Going Solo” are pretty fun reads too though it’s been a while since I’ve touched them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I occasionally see newer middle grade books compared to Roald Dahl, and it seems as if they mean “slightly certain in a certain way” because they never really have the dark element that actual Dahl books do. I’m always thinking things like, “Uh, no, if Dahl had written this, no one would believe what the kids were saying about adults being cruel to them.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

        I thought wordpress was just weird for me! I’ve been having so many problems commenting and liking lately…

        But yes, I agree! Roald Dahl really doesn’t hold back when it comes to the things his characters have to experience. A lot of children’s books nowadays are more gentle, imo


      • mphtheatregirl says:

        I saw both Charlies and the Chocolate films- the Gene E. Wilder one is much better: better songs among other things


          • mphtheatregirl says:

            During Octoberfest at Gardner Webb, my club choose the theme of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Octoberfest is basically a festival for children.

            Every club is allowed to choose their own them. I was a blue alien for our Outer Space theme- then during the Charlie and the Chocolate them, I was Violet. That was because I already had the supplies to be that character.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    I love Roald Dahl so much but being a Brit child I don’t know if there’s an element of his books pretty much get drummed into you since birth. I remember being read them at school for story time with a teacher who was really good at doing voices so that may have helped!

    I love The Witches most (the movie is still the most legitimately terrifying thing and I’m now 35 & can’t watch parts of it) but I also have such a fondness for The Twits because they are a grim and delightfully horrible couple to each other.

    Roald Dahl’s memoirs are also fantastic and so are his short story collections for adults ‘tales of the unexpected.’ The one that comes to everyone’s mind is ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ but I think ‘Royal Jelly’ is creepy as is ‘Skin.’


    • Krysta says:

      Ah, interesting! I think Roald Dahl is well-known in the U.S., but probably not that popular!

      I don’t remember if I’ve seen The Witches movie, but the book scares me, so I’m pretty sure the film would terrify me. And I do not like being terrified!

      I didn’t know he wrote for adults!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. anoveldestination says:

    Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a kid, and BFG got me into reading. But The Witches was probably my favorite.


  4. bargainsleuthbookreviews says:

    My favorite would have to be James and the Giant Peach. My parents rarely bought me books, but they bought that one. I still have it! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a close second. Don’t bother reading Charlie and the Great Glass elevator. That was just horrible.


  5. Never Not Reading says:

    I didn’t write a post this week because I’ve only read one Roald Dhal novel, Matilda, and it was over 25 years ago. I don’t remember it at all! I recall enjoying the story from Boy about him putting a mouse in the candy jar at the candy store, however.


  6. Anna says:

    Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my favorite Roald Dahl book. I like how at the end the farmers sit around the fox just waiting for them to come out. The Witches movie creep me out. I try reading the book but didn’t like it.

    I know Roald Dahl wrote some mysteries and thrillers for adults. I need to check those out.


  7. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Heh. It makes me happy that we both spoke about the same three books in our posts, Briana! And with similar levels of detail. It’s been YEARS since I’ve read Dahl’s works!

    Weird and dark was not my childhood aesthetic. But I do find his short stories fascinating. Very creepy — horror, thriller, and creeping dread abound. It’s very clear that he and Tim Burton would have been besties.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cupidandkatcreations says:

    I love James and the Giant Peach. The BFG might be up there too for me. Although honestly I remember loving all of his books when I was a kid. He definitely has some extra weird ones though like the Twits haha


  9. Eleanor J. says:

    Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are definitely well known and well written. A lot of Roald Dahl’s books are really good. I think that I didn’t read The Witches for the exact same reason — it seems a little too scary? Classic Remarks sounds like a really fun meme, I’ll have to look into it!!!!


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