June 19, 2011

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More - by Roald Dahl

Here's a classic that many people aren't familiar with.  These short stories by Roald Dahl are staples of my classroom read-aloud, though they're not exactly short and sweet.  They are interesting, challenging, surprising and memorable.

Take, for instance, the title story, "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar."  It is the tale of a rich man who reads the story of a doctor who met an Indian man who taught himself to see without using his eyes.  It sounds odd, I know, but the many layers of this amazing tale weave together until you don't know what hit you.  Though this story took a week to get through as I read it to my class this spring, those were the most silent and attentive moments of our year.  My good friend Mr. Garrison once told me that this story changed his life, and I don't doubt it.

My favorites of these seven stories are "The Hitchhiker" and "The  Boy who Talked to Animals."  The first tells of the author's encounter with a fingersmith, or a professional pickpocket.  From the passenger seat of the author's car, the mysterious hitchhiker manages to collect an amazing variety of items, which I can't specify because it would ruin the story.  The other is the tale of a giant sea turtle at a Bahamian resort who is captured and then released by local fishermen when a small boy insists that the animal be spared.  When the boy ends up missing the entire resort is in a panic, which does not reduce when the fishermen report seeing the boy riding the turtle out to sea the next morning.  As with any story, these will be much more enjoyable in the reading than in the retelling, so don't take my word for it, check this book out yourself and rediscover the amazing writing of this famous British author.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Oddly, this was NOT in my library and I hadn't heard of it, so thanks for mentioning it!