There’s more than chocolate in this classic fantasy fiction for ages 7 and up!
Brit Jason Wallien, Library Manager at International Montessori School of Beijing, shares his favorite childhood book, which he happily rereads with his students regularly.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a time-tested masterpiece from a true storytelling master, Roald Dahl. It is undisputed that Dahl had a knack for writing books for children seven and up, with the ability to instantly capture a child’s imagination. Just as children are left mouthwatering for the tasty treats described in the book, they will also want more of Dahl’s whizz-pop writing.
“Readers can relate to the protagonist, Charlie, in his love for chocolate, and dream of visiting the magical chocolate factory that has been closed off and shrouded in mystery for the past 15 years. When Willy Wonka, the factory owner, announces a competition where finders of his five golden tickets will be allowed a visit to his factory, the world literally goes crazy for his chocolate bars. Charlie finds one out of pure luck and joins four other children in the exciting tour of the factory.
“The tale has a very firm sense of right and wrong, of justice and injustice, where Charlie is clearly put in an unfair situation despite his kind and caring character just because he’s poor. The story follows a strong, positive role model into a world full of unjust and wickedly wacky characters, but who ultimately, through perseverance and strength of character, comes out on top. Dahl’s vivid characters exist in a well-governed world of cause and effect that children can understand and believe, allowing his message to be clearly delivered to children despite his classic flare for description.
“Characters and descriptions in this book have stuck with me since I read it as a child. When I read it aloud to my students now, I can see a captive audience devouring those descriptions and rooting as whole-heartedly for Charlie as I did. I loved, love, and will love reading this book and sharing that feels good.”
A magical Australian culinary adventure for the younger crowd
Australian Rebecca Taylor, Elementary School Librarian at Beanstalk International Bilingual School, shares an award-winning picture book about Australian culture and foods, which connects her to her childhood whenever she reads it.
“Possum Magic by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas, is a book suitable for younger readers, aged 3 to 7 years, as its lyrical prose lends well to read-a-louds. The evocative illustrations combined with a magical storyline make a natural page-turner that sucks children in immediately. The book unlocks a child’s curiosity and opens a door for families to discuss the unusual animals and foods from Australia, serving as the perfect springboard for talks about different cultures!
“The story begins with Grandma Poss, a cuddly, magical possum, who desperately wants to protect Hush, her baby possum, from the dangers of the Australian bush. So, Grandma Poss uses bush magic to make Hush invisible. Being unseen is fun for a while, but then Hush realizes she wants to know what she looks like. Unfortunately, Grandma Poss can’t find the magic that would make Hush seen! She knows the cure has something to do with people food, and so they start an epic culinary journey around Australia to find a cure for Hush’s invisibility. Grandma Poss and Hush sample iconic Australian comfort foods ranging from savory (Vegemite sandwiches and tuna mornay) to sweet (pavlova and laminations)–which food will make Hush visible again?
Possum Magic gently delves into many concepts of interest to today’s internationally minded families, such as safety, security, perfection, culinary variety, and culture. The subtle pacing of the book invites readers to come together in anticipation of finding out which foods will help make Hush visible. Taylor always surprises her students with Vegemite sandwiches after a first read through.
This article originally appeared on page 34 of the August 2016 Issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: MSB, BIBS, and Roalddahl.com