Roald Dahl: Children's Author

Filed under: Books for Kids

Roald Dahl (Sept. 13, 1916 - Nov. 23, 1990) was a British-Norwegian novelist, short story writer and screenwriter most famous for "James and the Giant Peach," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Matilda" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox."

Dahl developed his love of writing and storytelling from his parents. Dahl has described his mother, Sofie, as a a great storyteller. Harald, his father, has been described as a prolific diary-writer.

Dahl spent many unhappy years as a student in various schools until he joined the Royal Air Force at age 23. While in the Royal Air Force, he became a World War II flying ace and intelligence agent. His autobiography, "Going Solo," includes action-packed adventures and harrowing details of Dahl's life as a wingman fighting enemy troops.

Although Dahl has written many books for readers of all ages, he is most famous for his children's books that were based on people he knew as a child.

Many of Dahl's books have become popular children's movies, too. The book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" was adapted into two movies. The first, "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," was a 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder about a candy man who invites a handful of children into his secret factory. Once inside the factory, the children's bad behavior leads to disaster when they break Willy Wonka's rules and find themselves in embarrassing -- but not too dangerous -- situations. Charlie Bucket, the poor child with a heart of gold, is rewarded by being told he'll inherit the factory when Wonka dies. The movie was re-released in 2005 under the title "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" featuring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

"James and the Giant Peach" was adapted to the big screen in 1996. James, a happy boy whose life is turned upside down when his parents are killed by a rhinoceros, is sent to live with his two evil aunts. With the help of a little magic, a giant peach grows in his aunts' yard. James is then able to plan an escape, living in the peach with his new friends, human-sized bugs.

"Matilda," a tale about a girl genius who outsmarts her parents and evil headmistress using her untapped brain power, was also released in 1996.

Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," which is the story of a domesticated fox yearning for a wilder life, was adapted for the big screen and set to be released on November 25, 2009. This animated film has an all-star cast -- including George Clooney and Meryl Streep -- and was directed by Wes Anderson.

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