Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (by Roald Dahl)

After I finished reading Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to my four-year-old grandson, it was logical to continue to the sequel, ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’. I thought I must have read it previously, as we own a copy ourselves; but the plot (such as it is) was entirely unfamiliar to me. So perhaps I hadn’t.

The story begins where the previous book ends. Charlie Bucket, his Grandpa Joe and Willy Wonka are travelling in a giant glass lift, which Wonka announces is really an elevator as it can travel in all directions, not just up and down. The first port of call is to Charlie’s house where his parents and his three other grandparents are collected, along with the bed in which the grandparents had spent most of their recent years.

The book is bizarre, even by Dahl standards, and in places a little scary. The great glass elevator is supposed to be returning to the chocolate factory, but the wrong buttons are pressed and it ends up in space, first in a giant (but unoccupied) space hotel, and then in battle with some most unpleasant creatures, the ‘vermicious knids’. These shape-shifting monsters are the stuff of nightmares, although perhaps so ridiculous that nobody would believe in them.

Eventually the elevator reaches the chocolate factory, but then the story takes a rather pointless turn, introducing the concept of ‘Wonka-vite’, tablets which can rejuvenate people, reducing their age by several years at a time. This storyline took far too long, in my view, and I found it annoying rather than interesting.

I had a minor irritation in that the grandparents, all said to be in their nineties in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, are now in their early eighties or (in the case of one of the grandmothers) only 78. These ages are significant in what happens when they take some Wonka-vite. I also could not believe how ignorant they were - or how greedy, when given the opportunity to become a little younger and more healthy.

All in all, I thought this book rather disappointing as a sequel. There are some good parts in it, and some humour, and it ends satisfactorily - but I’d have liked to read more about the chocolate factory itself, and what happened, long-term, to Charlie and his family.

If you're going to read this, it should definitely follow on from the first book. It would make even less sense as a stand-alone!

Review copyright 2018 Sue's Book Reviews

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