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Book cover for Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl
Puff in: New York, 2016; originally published in 1984.

My mother always told me tales from her childhood. Most were happy stories that made me laugh. Others were sad and made me worry about her. Sometimes she told me stories about her own mother, my Yiayia, who had an even harder childhood, raised in a small village in Greece. My mother told me that without experiences, even hard ones, sad ones, and ones that make me cry, a writer will not have anything to write about. Roald Dahl puts his experiences of life, both happy and sad, in his autobiography, Boy: Tales of Childhood.

Roald Dahl, the proud author of many funny children’s books, isn’t the same on the inside as what he seems like on the outside. After reading Boy, I learned that he had a hard, troubling life as a kid, and those experiences are the ones that inspired him to write this book.

This book is not like others I’ve read. It begins with a memory of his dad working on the roof of their house; his dad tragically falls off and breaks his arm. The nearest doctor was drunk, and he dislocated the poor man’s arm. Because of this, Dahl’s father had to get it amputated and later invented a tool that helped him cut and eat his food with one hand.

Dahl also shares his experiences at boarding school where he was often mistreated. But, he also shares happy times, like the time he and his friends put a dead mouse in the mean candy-lady’s store. Dahl’s life was full of different emotions, and I realized I am very lucky that my life is filled with happiness. Still, everybody has had some sad experiences, even if they haven’t had a lot of them.

Though I wish Dahl’s life wasn’t full of melancholy events, I believe that is part of the reason he is such a good writer. Most kids know about The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda, but they may not know who Dahl was and what his life was like or how this affected his writing. Without these experiences that made him who he was, he may have had nothing to write about at all. I treasure his stories the way I treasure the stories from my mother and grandmother.

Marilena Korahais reviewer of Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl
Marilena Korahais, 8
Whitestone, NY