Book Review: “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” by Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
by Roald Dahl

This sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory picks up where the original left off, with Charlie Bucket and his parents, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina, and Mr. Willie Wonka himself in the magical glass elevator, on their way to take over the Wonka Chocolate Factory. But because the three bedridden old ones are still cantankerous and full of doubts, they ascend too high and end up in orbit. It just happens that the great Space Hotel USA is about to open, and they take advantage of their plight to be the first on board the opulent luxury hotel in space.

Only, they aren’t the first. Something has gotten there before them — a thousand somethings from far away in outerspace — about the nastiest somethings you could ask for. And in their madcap escape, which also happens to be an international incident of the utmost absurdity (you’ll LOVE the President of the US), they also have to help a space capsule full of housekeepers, waitresses, and bell hops escape a rampaging swarm of Vermicious Knids.

But the story isn’t even half over then… for once they smash down in the Wonka Works, Charlie and his family have another crisis on their hands: for two of Wonka’s magical confections — Wonka-Vite, which makes you younger, and Vita-Wonk, which makes you older — lead the Bucket family on a scary and hilarious adventure to Minusland and back.

Many of the most memorable lines from the Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory musical-movie, starring Gene Wilder, came from this book. Such as, “A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.” It’s a very goofy story, and certainly not Dahl’s most perfect or well-polished creation, but it’s got some good solid laughs, some hairraising moments, and a few life lessons thrown in, like medicine laced with sugar.

Also, those of you who may have read Julie Andrews Edwards’ The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, will remember some creature names from this (and other) books by Roald Dahl. Who else would come up with whangdoodles, snozzwangers, procks, and whiffle birds?