Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Roald Dahl is art


One of my favorite children's authors -- who I've only read as an adult -- is Roald Dahl. If I find one of his books that I don't have, yet, I will buy it. They're not very thick, therefore there's always room on the bookshelf for more.

Today, while at the Muncie Flea, where you can't actually look for things you want because you'll never find them, we came across a gem: a copy of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" by Roald Dahl. A first edition. This book was first published in 1970, so it's not like some antique, but the cream colored fabric cover with a gold "Mr. Fox" embossed on the front is pretty spectacular.

I wish I had a story attached to this book, something like: Well, this one time, while I was in the hospital as a child, my grandfather visited and surprised me with this story, something he wanted to read aloud to me...

Then, finding the first edition of the book! All the memories came soaring back!

But really.

I didn't read this until I was in my 20's.

Roald Dahl was a safe author to turn to when I taught language arts remediation. The students in those classes already hated being there. They didn't do well on the statewide standardized test, and so they had to be in a class that focused on reading and picking the bits out of a text.

They could only handle so much nonfiction shoved down their throats, especially about topics they couldn't have cared less about.

So, I always whipped out some Roald Dahl to read aloud to them. As I read, they would have to think about the main idea, make inferences, figure out connections, and then some, but at least it was to a story about a fox. Or a big friendly giant. Or a chocolate factory.

Modern fairy tales, these stories are.

So, although I don't have some great story to make this find miraculous and heart-wrenching, finding a first edition of a book by a favorite author is still pretty cool. I won't sit down and read this version. Instead, we have displayed on our fireplace mantle as a piece of art.

Because, let's face it. Roald Dahl is art.