Tag Archives: fiction

Celebrate Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday!

7 Sep

One of my favorite childhood memories was my mom reading James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my sister and me.  I loved the whimsical (and sometimes a bit scary) fantasies.  This September 13 marks the 100th anniversary of Dahl’s birth.  In Manchester, England the weekend before they are celebrating with a two day event complete with a giant inflatable peach, visit from the BFG, Willy Wonka’s Garden, and more.  The Hoboken Public Library has a variety of Dahl’s books, books on CD, and movies to spark your imagination; here are just a few to get you started.

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach was one of my two favorite books as a child (the other was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web).  James accidentally grows an enormous peach and finds friendly talking insects inside who travel with him on a thrilling journey.  You can take out the book from the Hoboken Public Library and the movie adaptation from BCCLS libraries.


The movie adaptation of The BFG was in theaters this summer.  The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, who unlike other giants doesn’t want to eat little children, but instead sends them good dreams.  He befriends a little girl named Sofie who helps him stop the less friendly giants from causing mayhem.  If you enjoyed the film, borrow the book or book on CD today at the Hoboken Public Library.


Matilda isn’t any ordinary girl, she has telekinetic powers which she uses to deal with her horrible parents and headmistress.  The musical adaptation of Matilda has been playing on Broadway since April of 2013, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to get tickets soon since it scheduled to end its run on January 1. You can borrow Matilda as a book or its movie adaptation on DVD from the Hoboken Public Library

The Witches

Roald Dahl’s The Witches is perfect if you are looking for a spooky Halloween read.  A boy must help his grandmother stop witches from turning all of the world’s children into mice.  You can borrow the book in print or on CD from HPL and the movie adaptation from BCCLS libraries.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is probably Dahl’s best known work; it features a group of children who get a dream tour of a magical chocolate factory.  Remember not only Dahl, but the recently passed actor Gene Wilder in the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (my preferred version, despite being a huge Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fan and the author’s disapproval of the adaptation).  You can also borrow Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: A Play adapted by Richard R. George if your little aspiring thespians would like to act the book out.  The library has the book’s sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator that reveals what happens after the elevator went into space.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

I was surprised and delighted recently when I learned the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by Roald Dahl along with Ken Hughes.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun fantastic story about an inventor of whistling sweets and his flying car.  It was my favorite musical as a kid and I will probably have the songs from it stuck in my head all day.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is based on a children’s novel by James Bond author Ian Fleming.  Dahl also wrote the screenplay for the Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life


Image via Amazon

Adults can always enjoy rereading Dahl’s children’s classics, but for those looking for something written for a more mature audience you can borrow from our library Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, a collection of darkly humorous short stories he wrote in the 1940s and 1950s.  Also available for adults at our library is Dahl’s Two Fables.

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington by Jennet Conant

Dahl may have not only written a screen play about a spy, he may have been one himself!  You can read about his involvement with the British Secret Service in Conat’s The Irregulars.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Quick Staff Pick: Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

8 Jun

Great North Road is a commitment. At 914 pages (paperback) it is
well plotted, has characters that you’ll really care about, a lot of
sci-fi concepts, and an intriguing mystery.


The North family is a dynasty that is coming apart at the seams. The
three sons of Kane North (Augustine, Bartram, and Constantine) have
cloned themselves and are pursuing different interests in different
parts of the galaxy. It is 2143, and interstellar travel is common,
with new outposts of humanity and clones inhabiting strange new
worlds. The cloning thing doesn’t quite have all the bugs worked out
yet, as the clones of clones tend to lose intelligence as the copies
of copies seem to introduce flaws. The clones are conveniently named
with A, B, and C names to help keep them straight and help you
remember who is allied with whom. There is also a lengthy list of
characters at the front of the book to help you keep the other
characters straight. It isn’t quite complete, though, because the book
is a mystery, and to list all the characters and suspects would lead
to spoilers. So you will encounter names that you will have to
remember as the story progresses.

While the narrative progresses in strictly date-defined chronological
order, it also includes uses some present-tense background fill-in
that gradually paints the broader picture of how these characters came
to this point and how they relate to one another.

Sound confusing? It’s really not.

The gist of the plot is this: A North is murdered and despite DNA info
and a lot of futuristic surveillance technology Sid Hurst and his
homicide team have trouble identifying the victim, let alone the
perpetrator. The body, however, has tell-tale forensic details that
tie it to the death of Bartram North. Bartram’s killer, Angela
Tramelo, is imprisoned and could not have committed the second murder.
Angela has always claimed her innocence and says that a
humanoid-looking monster is responsible for the killing.
So the search for the killer proceeds on two fronts: a search for a
monster who arrived via interstellar travel, or someone with an ax to
grind against the North family.

While some of the descriptions of society in the age of advanced
technology are pretty cool, Hamilton can get a little bogged down
describing the technology. And over 900 pages, there were parts of the
novel that dragged a bit. I was glad that I kept slogging through at
points, though, as the book as a whole was worth the time and effort,
and provided a look at what the future may hold. Cloning, omnipresent
surveillance, deporting society’s undesirables…the future may be
nearer than we think.

-Written by Victoria Turk, Reference Librarian

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