(Kid Review) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a book and a movie (Gene Wilder) that I have found memories of when I was a child.

Charlie is about a child who has nothing and wins everything. He first gets the coveted golden ticket. He gets a lifetime supply of chocolate and a tour of the magical chocolate factory, led by the wacky Willy Wonka. We know from the beginning that Charlie Bucket is our hero and that the other children have severe character faults that make them undeserving of the chocolate. We cheer the downfall of the naughty children, hoping Charlie will make it to the end. (*spoiler: he does!*)

“Spoilers” throughout the rest of this post.

A few months ago, I started talking about Charlie every time I got in an elevator with my son, who is almost three-and-a-half year old.

“Charlie has an elevator that goes into the sky!” I’d say.

Naturally, he wanted to hear about Charlie, so we gave reading chapter books a try once again. Last summer, I read him a few, but he really didn’t have much patience, and we only got through a page a day, or so.

This time, my son was hooked on the chapter book. He loved it! As we read each night before bed, he’d sit with eyes open wide, full attention.

“Mommy,” he said near the beginning of the book. “I want Charlie to find a Golden Ticket.”

Later, he’d ponder each night, “How will Charlie get out?”

I’d finish a chapter and he’d be quick to say, “More! More! Read more!”

And then we watched the movie (the Gene Wilder version) and he sat transfixed the entire time. I don’t think he moved a muscle for the entire movie. He wasn’t even scared at the tunnel part (which always scared me as a kid).

I have decided not to include pictures of my son on this blog, or his real name, but I did really want you to hear from him how much he likes the story of Charlie. Here is a podcast (less than two minutes) in which he tells you a little about the book. There are some spoilers for the book and the movie.

Kid Review

A conversation with my three-year-old son about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


Mom: Hi! What’s that book called?

Son: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

Mom: What did you like about the book?

Son: All of it!

Mom: Who was it about?

Son: Mr Wonka, and the kids, and the grownups

Mom: What did the kids do?

Son: Did bad things!

Mom: Some of the kids did bad things?

Son: Yeah

Mom: What about Charlie? Did he do bad things? What did Charlie get in the end?

Son: A chocolate!

Mom: Yeah, he got the chocolate factory, huh?

Son: But in the movie, Charlie and his dad go up the bubbles.

Mom: That’s true. In the movie, Charlie and Grandpa Joe went up with all the bubbles, didn’t they? That wasn’t in the book.

Son: And that’s bad!

Mom: That was bad too.

What was your favorite part of Charlie?

Son: But someone was doing _______ and someone is BROO and _____.

Mom: Yeah?

Son: And that be bad and do dangerous stuff.

Mom: Dangerous stuff. You’re right.

Son: In the movie

Mom: In the movie they did dangerous stuff

Som: Yeah

Mom: Are you glad we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory together?

Son: Yeah. Hi, my name’s Raisin.

Mom: What?

Son: My name’s Raisin.

Mom: You’re name is Raisin. That’s right. Alright, bye-bye!

More mom comments

I didn’t realize how hard he is to understand until I listened to this!

Also, for the record, I didn’t realize he had such an understanding of the “bad” children. He’s very quick to say here that it’s about “bad” children. I think watching the movie helped him see how “bad” Veruca was. When she first appeared in the movie, he said, “Mommy, I don’t like her.”

Toward the end of the recording, he goes on a tangent telling a story and I wasn’t sure what he was saying. I think he was talking about Augustus Gloop going up the pipe, or maybe talking about Grandpa Joe and Charlie burping to get down from the bubbles. He then humors me by saying, “My name is Raisin.” (We’d practiced and he kept saying “My name isn’t Raisin! It’s ____!” So I didn’t think he “got” it.)

Reviewed on March 1, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • Aw, that was adorable! πŸ˜€

    I have to admit, I never liked the Gene Wilder version of the movie, though I love the new one. My kids love the new one too, and they’ve been seeing the old one at school recently and keep coming home with comments like “this movie’s bad! It changed the book!” and “There’s gross stuff in this movie. I don’t want to see it anymore.” Oh dear. (gross stuff in the tunnel – that’s the part that used to scare me as a kid too!)

    • Amanda, ahh, see. I have not yet seen the new movie. I have a deep revulsion for Johnny Depp — I liked him in Pirates of the Caribbean but every other movie I’ve seen him in he’s just freaky. So I couldn’t bring myself to introduce that movie to my son. I really need to watch it. Maybe this weekend…

      Yes, the Gene Wilder version had some changes, but Roald Dahl was a consultant on it, so I feel okay with it. I didn’t like the tunnel — but I think amazingly Raisin LIKED it. Weird, I know.

      • I admit I love Depp but yes he’s definitely weird! He does a great autistic-like Wonka, though! I had always heard that the Dahl family hated the first film and publically announced their dislike? I didn’t realize he was a consultant…

        The more recent movie changes things too. Specifically it gives a lot of background for Wonka’s character. But the part about the kids stays the same, which is what I liked. I didn’t like the whole “Charlie was bad too but still got the chocolate factory” message in the old movie. It felt like a bad message to give kids.

        • Amanda, huh, I guess I really don’t know. We watched a few minutes of the documentary about the making of the Gene Wilder movie and there were some photos of Dahl with Wilder so I thought that meant he was a consultant. But then IMDB has this trivia, so I guess you’re right. hmm

  • I think that even though this is probably Dahl’s most famous work, it’s the one I never read as a kid! I have seen both movies though, and I didn’t like the new one because I thought the songs weren’t as good as the old ones and it was kind of freaky in general. Can’t say how similar it is to the book though!

    Love that you were able to share one of your favorite childhood reads with your son. That’s certainly one aspect of parenthood I would look forward to!

    • Steph, I think just the cover of the new one is freaky! I asked Raisin if he wanted to watch it and showed it to him at the library today and he said it was too scary. That was the copy with the huge close of Johnny Depp. He did watch the Gene Wilder Three (3) times in the past week.

      It is so fun to see my son creating his own memories!

  • Like Steph wrote, I love that you were able to share one of your favorite books with your son. What a lucky kid, to start experiencing Dahl so young! When I was growing up it was Dahl who made me want to be a writer, and it’s so cool to think of new generations discovering him just like I did. And so cool (overusing this word, maybe) that he understands the story as well as he does!

    • Ellen, aw, so nice that he was such an inspiration on you. I haven’t read a ton of Dahl to be honest — but the “big” ones my mom read to us and/or we watched the movies.

  • I like the old movie, still, it was certainly very original – it’s own thing :). I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the boys, and was… okay with it. But the Glass Elevator was a really troubling book in a lot of ways – horribly racist for instance, in parts. I tried reading it to the boys and stopped after a few chapters.

    • Jason Gignac, ooo thanks for the warning about Glass Elevator. I wasn’t really eager to read it to Raisin at this point but I KNOW if he finds out it exists he’ll probably want to read it. Not any time soon, I’ll put it off for us…

  • That was so adorable! I absolutely adore this book (although The Witches was my favorite as a girl) and loved watching the Gene Wilder movie at after school care while in elementary school. I did not find it scary at all, but the more recent version with Johnny Depp was very strange. I thought Deep was really creepy and the chocolate factory did not seem at all like something that could occur at any chocolate factory in the world. I always thought this magical chocolate factory could be right down the street from where I live and the Depp version just did not convey this to me.

  • Oh my God, that was too cute for words. When he was talking about going up with the bubbles…mercy. Adorable. I’m glad Raisin enjoyed it so much! The Gene Wilder film of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory put my four-year-old self off Roald Dahl for years, it was so scary. The tunnel part. Raisin must be made of sterner stuff than I was.

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