September 13th is Roald Dahl Day and in honour of this, I asked my family which Roald Dahl book to read. George’s Marvellous Medicine was suggested. My oldest son’s both enjoyed this story in Grade 5 (thanks Mrs. Wilson!). Everyone knows Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach but he has 39 published works including screen plays and scripts. I had not realized that Dahl had been involved with Gremlins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the screen play for You Only Live Twice, a James Bond movie.
He is said to have built his own writing hut which was white with a yellow door. He never allowed anyone in – even to clean and the hut is still set up like he left it when he died in 1990! He was very particular about the specific types of pencils and yellow legal paper that he wrote with. Each month, he was said to have a bonfire to burn the discarded papers.
George’s Marvellous Medicine is a creepy story of a little boy who decides he has had enough of his nasty grandmother. Rather than administer her regular medicine, he is inspired to create his own medicine for her. He uses all sorts of ingredients from the house, the barn and the garage including things such as flea powder, lipstick, anti freeze and animal medicine which results in a medicine with dramatic effects.
His parents arrive home and share the remaining medicine on farm animals who grow very large and then they encourage George to recreate his medicine. They try to make additional batches of medicine with unusual results. Grandma mistakes the new medicine for tea and as a result she disappears – this was likely not the best story to read on Grandparents Day!
His writing is easy to read but I have to admit, I would cringe reading some parts to my youngest son. He uses derogatory words like stupid or old woman and describes her mouth as “puckered up like a dog’s bottom”. We may try not to use these terms but this would be part of the appeal for reluctant readers. These books are a rite of passage for children and I will continue to complete the set slowly with my son (trying hard to not skip over the “bad” words)!