BOOKS FOR CHILDREN BY THE SAME AUTHOR
James and the Giant Peach Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Fantastic Mr Fox The Magic Finger Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator Danny, the Champion of the World The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More The Enormous Crocodile The Twits George's Marvellous Medicine Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes The BFG Dirty Beasts The Witches Boy TheGiraffe and the Pelly and Me Going Solo
Illustrations by Quentin Blake VIKING KESTREL
For Michael and Lucy
VIKING KESTREL Published by the Penguin Group Viking Penguin Inc., 40 West 23rd Street, New York, New York 10010, U.S.A. Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, England Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia Penguin Books CanadaLtd, 2801 John Street, Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 1B4 Penguin Books |N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England First published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1988 First American edition published 1988 3 5 7 9 10 6 4 Text copyright © Roald Dahl, 1988 Illustrations copyright © Quentin Blake, 1988 Allrights reserved Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint an excerpt from "In Country Sleep" from The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright 1947,1952 Dylan Thomas. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. Library of Congress catalog card number: 88-40312 ISBN 0-670-82439-9 Printed in the United States of America by Arcata Graphics, Fairfield, Pennsylvania Set inTrump Mediaeval Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
ContentsThe Reader of Books Mr Wormwood, the Great Car Dealer The Hat and the Superglue The Ghost Arithmetic The Platinum-Blond Man Miss Honey The Trunchbull The Parents Throwing the Hammer Bruce Bogtrotter and the Cake Lavender The Weekly Test The First Miracle The Second Miracle Miss Honey's Cottage Miss Honey's Story The Names The Practice The Third Miracle A New Home
The Reader of Books
It's afunny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful. Some parents go further. They become so blinded by adoration they manage to convince themselves their child has qualities of genius. Well, there is nothing very wrong with all this. It's the way of the world. It is only when theparents begin telling us about the brilliance of their own revolting offspring, that we start shouting, "Bring us a basin! We're going to be sick!"
School teachers suffer a good deal from having to listen to this sort of twaddle from proud parents, but they usually get their own back when the time comes to write the end-of-term reports. If I were a teacher I would cook up some real scorchers forthe children of doting parents. "Your son Maximilian", I would write, "is a total wash-out. I hope you have a family business you can push him into when he leaves school because he sure as heck won't get a job anywhere else." Or if I were feeling lyrical that day, I might write, "It is a curious truth that grasshoppers have their hearing-organs in
the sides of the abdomen. Your daughterVanessa, judging by what she's learnt this term, has no hearing-organs at all."
I might even delve deeper into natural history and say, "The periodical cicada spends six years as a grub underground, and no more than six days as a free creature of sunlight and air. Your son Wilfred has spent six years as a grub in this school and we are still waiting for him to emerge from the chrysalis." A...