Saturday, January 15, 2011

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory




Mr Bird and I belong to a couples book club.
We meet once a month (for over 3 years now) and have a pot luck dinner and discuss fabulous works of literature.
We've read Shakespeare and Dante and C.S.Lewis, among many, many others.
This month we decided on a light, fun read.
It was Mr Birds turn to pick and we had listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the kids quite some time ago.
It turns out the book is ever so much better than the movies (imagine that!).
There are little pearls of wisdom that were far before their time.
Take the Oompa-Loompas songs for instance.
In the books they have morals for each of the greedy, naughty children.
My favorite by far was their song for Mike Teavee.
Read the words.
And keep in mind Roald Dahl first published this in 1964.
As you read, think of how much more meaning it has in today's world filled with video games and texting and ipods and iphones and wiis and all the other mindless gadgets we have invented to take away from letting children be children.


"Mike Teavee..."

(from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

"The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set–
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotized by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all the shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink–
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK–HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY...USED...TO...READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic takes
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy–Winkle and–
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole–
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks–
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something good to read.
And once they start–oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hears. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
P.S. Regarding Mike Teavee,
We very much regret that we
Shall simply have to wait and see
If we can get him back his height.
But if we can't–it serves him right."

If you want to read all of the Oomp-Loompa's songs (which I highly recommend) go here.

3 comments:

Emma said...

I love it!!! I love that my kids love to read, but I also wish they didn't think computer games were so essential. Or that they didn't think they are deprived because they don't have a Wii or a DS.

Karen Peterson said...

It's a little sad how much this applies to me, too.

For someone who is insanely busy all the time, I sure do find a lot of spare time to waste in front of the TV.

Karen said...

I love it! I'm going to have to link it from my blog - my kids have read the book, but I haven't made time for it yet. Maybe because I didn't love Matilda when I read it. You've motivated me to pick it up now though!