Childrens' literature is big business at the moment and currently, everyone has a reading age of about 12. But while Harry Potter, Alex Ryder, the Series of Unfortunate Events and His Dark Materials are seeing us through long train journeys and creating amusing scenarios in bookshops as adults rampage and pillage the childrens' section, the Grandfather of childrens' literature who got us all started on this reading lark is not forgotten. Most will remember with fondness Roald Dahl's The BFG, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, Danny the Champion of the World, The Magic Finger, George's Marvellous Medicine, Revolting Rhymes... and if not, you've got the pleasure of reading them for the first time...
Roald Dahl would have been 90 years old today, and to celebrate his birthday and all his fantastic books, a series of events have been arranged. Things are happening all over the country - an Open House day at Dahl's home in Great Missenden, Bucks and the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory attraction opens at Alton Towers but in London, events are a little better illustrated.
Perhaps the most memorable bits of Dahl's books were not just the neat twists, sly humour and satisfying conclusions (the baddies always got punished and the goodies always got away with it) but also the scratchy, scrabbled illustrations by Quentin Blake. His pictures were the perfect match for Dahl's stories and to celebrate their partnership the National Theatre is hosting an exhibition of Blake's illustrations for Dahl's books. Film adaptations of Dahl's books will be screened at the National Film Theatre until 30 September - check the programme for details but the main thing to look out for is which version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gets the most audience (Gene Wilder vs. Johnny Depp - you decide). And a special talk by Quentin Blake himself will happen on 22 September at the National Theatre.
Other suggestions for celebrating Roald Dahl's birthday comes from the Roald Dahl Day website here:
1. Wear something yellow – it was Roald's favourite colour!
2. Wear one or more items of clothing backwards.
3. Drop "gobblefunk"* into your conversations (the unique language created by Roald and most commonly used by the BFG).
4. Swap a Roald Dahl book with a friend.
5. Talk backwards.
6. Tell a silly joke – Roald loved swapping these with his kids.
7. Play an "unexpected" prank.
8. Give someone a treat – Roald was a great believer in treats, whether it was a bar of chocolate or a lovely surprise.
9. Write your own revolting rhyme.
10. Make up an Oompa Loompa dance and get all your friends to join in!
You have the rest of the day to complete these tasks. Gobblefunk!
Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake: The Illustrations at the National Theatre until 30 September. More information on the National Theatre website here.
Roald Dahl Film and TV season at National Film Theatre until 30 September. More information on the National Film Theatre website here.
Quentin Blake on Roald Dahl - Platform Performance at the National Theatre on 22 September. More information on the National Film Theatre website here.