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A Celebratory Month for Roald Dahl

Portrait of Roald Dahl,1954. By Carl Van Vechten.

Portrait of Roald Dahl, 1954. By Carl Van Vechten.

Yesterday, marked author Roald Dahl’s 94th birthday and was the kick off day for a month of activities in Britain planned in honor of this giant of children’s literature. Though Dahl died in 1990 from leukemia, his body of work, which includes James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, remains wildly popular among kids and adults. Roald Dahl Day was initially launched on September 13, 2006 to commemorate his 90th birthday, but the outpouring of public affection for the writer and his stories has turned the event into a month-long celebration. “We thought it was going to be a one-off celebration but, because the previous years have been so successful, we can’t stop,” Felicity Dahl, the author’s widow, explains to The Guardian. “Roald was a great believer in birthdays being filled with treats, so he would be so happy that this tradition seems to be becoming an annual event.”

Among the planned festivities are productions of Fantastic Mr Fox at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington and George’s Marvelous Medicine at the Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea, as well as a traveling roadshow Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Roald Dahl, in which experts on the author will answer children’s questions. Waterstone’s bookshops have launched a Roald Dahl Reading Relay that encourages kids to read three Dahl books between the months of September and December, and will be hosting events to celebrate the author at locations throughout Britain. The shortlist for the Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize, created by children’s laureate Michael Rosen, will also be announced late in the week. “Roald Dahl was a writer who entertained, surprised, shocked and amazed millions of readers,” states Rosen. “On Roald Dahl Day, we remember his contribution to the world of children’s books and hear from people who knew him and worked with him. But these occasions aren’t sombre or sad – they are full of fun, jokes and discoveries.”

View Roald Dahl photo gallery
Read a list of top 10 Roald Dahl books from one of last year’s Roald Dahl Funny Prize winners, Philip Ardagh

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