Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl!

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The Germans certainly have some great authors: You can’t deny that Kafka, Tucholsky and von Arnim knew what they were doing when they took a pen in their hands.

However, I find it hard to think of a great and funny children’s author from Germany like Dr. Seuss or in fact Roald Dahl.

Erich Kaestner the author of “Lottie and Lisa” wrote some brilliant and certainly humorous children’s books and Michael Ende the author of “The Neverending Story” and “Momo” was pretty fantastical but a really funny and entertaining children’s author doesn’t come mind.

I feel deprived ;-).

I feel deprived because I discovered both Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl as an adult even though I read many translated authors as a child like Enid Blyton. But they were not really funny either. Entertaining and with a lot of suspense yes but funny?

There is probably a reason why we have to live with the prejudice we do not understand any humor ;-). Let’s not go down that road today.

I actually went down the road to the library today and got myself a book:

 

For all those who do not know: Roald Dahl the author of books like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “Matilda” would have been 100 years old today. On breakfast tv this morning, they showed children dressing up as their most favourite Roald Dahl character and it seemed to me like they had lots of fun.

They also showed some old footage of him and his young wife at a talk show and I got the impression that he was someone who loved to live and who certainly had no problem with self-esteem. Or at least he knew how to hide it.

I suspect going about life with a lot of humour and not taking anything serious which is said about him often comes from the experience of personal tragedy. And Dahl had enough of it in his life. He lost his father and a sister early in life. His son had a bad accident as a child and one of his daughters died of a disease.

How do you deal with that? You either despair or you take life by the lapel and laugh in its face. And you get creative. It looks to me like he did exactly that. But he also got active in other ways. Saving Europe as an air fighter in WWII and later on helped create a device called “Wade-Dahl-Till” (or WDT) valve which helps alleviate hydrocephalus.

Blimey, he seemed to have been larger than life :-).

But these are the kind of people who are able to write lasting stories. Stories which are funny but also show you that life is not only black or white and they do not deny the darker side of life. And in this they give children the chance to learn how to deal with difficulties in an age adequate way.

I can only say “Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl” and am looking forward to reading his wonderful books. Yes, I am out of the closet: I do enjoy reading children’s books because you are never too old to read a good children’s story!

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