What better reason to dust off that old copy of Mathilda, the Big friendly Giant or Danny, the Champion of the World than a day dedicated to the ultimate children’s writer – Roald Dahl Day.
A man who gave us a rich array of memorable and amusing character and invented words many of which have entered everyday language and are now included in the Oxford English Dictionary
- Dahlesque – The characteristics of Dahl’s work—in the OED’s words, “eccentric plots, villainous or loathsome adult characters, and gruesome or black humour”—now have their own adjective. The term was first used in 1983 by the literary magazine Books Ireland.
- Golden ticket – These refer to the tickets hidden in chocolate bars that granted access to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964).
- Human bean – This is a mispronunciation of “human being,” uttered by the giant in The BFG (1982): “We is having an interesting babblement about the taste of the human bean. The human bean is not a vegetable.” The first instance of the phrase is over a century older, having been used in an issue of the British satirical magazine Punch in 1842.
- Oompa Loompa – The diminutive factory workers who played music and danced in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were made more famous by the 1971 film adaption of the book, starring Gene Wilder. Gupta called the phrase “typical Dahlesque,” reflecting how the author played with sound to convey meaning.
- Scrumdiddlyumptious – “Extremely scrumptious; excellent, splendid; (esp. of food) delicious.” Although the word was first found in The American Thesaurus of Slang in 1942, Dahl’s giant’s use of it planted it firmly in the minds of every child who read The BFG: “Every human bean is diddly and different. Some is scrumdiddlyumptious and some is uckyslush.”
- Witching hour – Referred to in The BFG as ”a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.”
The organisers have created a great free activity booklet for anyone planning on throwing a Roald Dahl party. It is packed with fun things to do with kids from creative writing to colouring, word searches to mazes, party invites and ideas for crafts. Definitely worth downloading even if you’re not planning a party as it’s a great way to keep children entertained for a few hours on a rainy day.
This year they have also teamed up with the Natural History Museum to host a James and the Giant Peach weekend, taking place on the 8th and 9th of September and have a number of Dahl themed session from Whizz Banging Words to Giant bugs – all free of charge.