Sometimes children's author Roald Dahl was not a very nice man. This Recording explains.
His early writing in the short story form was impacted by the political situation on the world stage. He believed in a world government and he was extremely sympathetic to Hitler, Mussolini, and the entire Nazi cause. His stories were filled with caricatures of greedy Jews. One suggests "a little pawnbroker in Housditch called Meatbein who, when the wailing started, would rush downstairs to the large safe in which he kept his money, open it and wriggle inside on to the lowest shelf where he lay like a hibernating hedgehog until the all-clear had gone." In 1951 he visited Germany with Charles Marsh and luxured in Hitler's former retreat at Berchtesgaden. His dislike of Jews and especially of Zionists was egged on by Marsh's Israel hatred, later encapsulated in a revolting letter to Marsh where he mocked the head of East London's B'Nai B'rith Club.
Dahl's dark side is on display in his short story collection, Tales of the Unexpected, which I read as a teen (twice!) and loved. A more charitable take on Dahl is available at Wikipedia.
From John Lanchester's review of Nathan Myhrvold's massive cookbook, Modernist Cuisine:
Another thing they love is magic -- and recent culinary discoveries have opened up extraordinary possibilities for the chef to serve things that the customers had never thought were possible. Foods that change temperature when you eat them, a cup of tea that is cold on one side and hot on the other, an edible menu, a "Styrofoam" beaker that turns into a bowl of ramen when the server pours hot water over it, edible clay and rocks, a pocket watch that turns into mock-turtle soup, a bar of soap covered in foam that is actually a biscuit with honey bubbles, a milkshake volcano -- these are the kinds of thing with which the modernist chefs amaze their audience.
From Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
"Marshmallow pillows are terrific," shouted Mr. Wonka as he dashed by. "They'll be all the rage when I get them into the shops! No time to go in, though! No time to go in!"
Lickable Wallpaper for Nurseries, it said on the next door.
"Lovely stuff, lickable wallpaper!" cried Mr. Wonka, rushing past. "It has pictures of fruits on it -- bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, pineapples, strawberries, and snozzberries..."
"Snozzberries?" said Mike Teevee. "Don't interrupt!" said Mr. Wonka. "The wallpaper has all these pictures of all these fruits printed on it, and when you lick the picture of the banana, it tastes of banana. When you lick a strawberry, it tastes of strawberry. And when you lick a snozzberry, it tastes just exactly like a snozzberry..."
"But what does a snozzberry taste like?"
"You're mumbling again," said Mr. Wonka. "Speak louder next time. On we go. Hurry up!"
Hot Ice Cream for Cold Days, it said on the next door.
"Extremely useful in the winter," said Mr. Wonka, rushing on. "Hot ice cream warms you up no end in freezing weather. I also make hot ice cubes for putting in hot drinks. Hot ice cubes make hot drinks hotter."
In stop motion animation, Wes Anderson has found the perfect medium for telling his special brand of precise yet fanciful tales. I won't go so far as to say that it's his best film -- Rushmore will be difficult to dislodge from its perch -- but there are some pretty special moments in Fantastic Mr. Fox.
While the film deviates from Roald Dahl's book quite a bit -- only the middle third is straight from the book -- the story holds true to the sense of playful mischieviousness evident in Dahl's books for children. (I especially liked the drugged blueberry bit that Anderson purloined from Danny, the Champion of the World, my favorite Dahl story.) I can't say for sure whether or not the movie is good for kids, but the two nine-year-old boys sitting next to me in the theater loved it...although they also loved the Tooth Fairy and the Alvin and the Chimpmunks: the Squeakquel trailers, so YMMV.