Charlie & the Chocolate Factory wins number 1 spot!
The enduring appeal of Dahl lies not only in his expert storytelling, but in the gruesome, gory and silly nature of his books. What child hasn’t dreamt of rivers of chocolate? Yet Dahl was never sentimental, and here the hero is the only son of the almost comically poor Bucket family, who wins the final place on a one-off tour of the top-secret sweet factory owned by Willy Wonka.
While Dahl allows us to wallow in confectionery, the other children in the book - greedy, lazy and spoilt - come to sweetly sticky ends. A wonderful novel for young readers which fires their imaginations and offers a cautionary tale.
James’ Giant Peach makes it 2nd in the nation’s list of favourites
In true Dahl style, this adventure is rather strange, but wry and compassionate. Before the first page is out poor James Henry Trotter is orphaned and condemned to a life of cruelty with his Aunts Spiker and Sponge. However, one day he meets a strange man who offers him a bag of magic grains, only James drops the bag in the garden and a mighty peach appears. James is befriended by a clutch of insects who were also affected by the magic and they all fly away on an incredible adventure.
Matilda comes in at 3rd place
Made into a Hollywood film in 1996, Matilda is the story of a girl genius breaking out from the confines of a horrible home life and boring school. Instead, her supportive and encouraging teacher Miss Honey and Matilda’s own special powers transcend Dahl’s vision of neglectful parenting.
The Big Friendly Giant wins 4th place!
Despite Sophie being scared of him when she first sees him at her bedroom window, The Big Friendly Giant is just that. He blows sweet dreams through the windows to children at night, and battles unfriendly giants. Dahl creates a wonderful giant language – the bad ones eat children or ‘humanbeans’.
Mr Fox rounds our favourites off in 5th place!
Mr Fox enjoys his life doing fox-like things, such as eating chickens and turkeys, much to the annoyance of farmers Bunce, Boggis and Bean. The trio decide they must rid themselves of this pest any way they can, but
Mr Fox and his fellow wild animals manage to outwit the foolish men. Typically Dahl in its cruel characterisation of the vile farmers and its dark comedy, this is a great antidote to the more wholesome reads available for 6- and 7-year-olds.