“Matilda” and “The BFG” by Roald Dahl are two of my all-time favorite books. They make me happy. They also make me laugh till my belly hurts. But then so do “The Twits”, “James and the Giant Peach”, and “The Witches”. Dahl’s writing weaves a spell and takes you into unique, captivating worlds from where you never want to leave.
Fun fact: almost every book by Dahl has a song or verse. Not counting nursery rhymes, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Dahl’s books are where I first got introduced to poetry. These aren’t regular poems. Laced with humor and lessons, they are little stories in their own right. So, you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a copy of “Songs and Verse” at Ekta Bookstore in Thapathali, Kathmandu, when I was browsing through their children’s section recently.
[Disclaimer: I don’t have children but I can often be found at bookstores hunting for a fun children’s book or two. There’s a certain charm in rediscovering children’s books as an adult. Surprisingly, it can give you new perspective on things. Children’s books are filled with important life lessons and they can be quite comforting too.]
Songs and Verse has seven sections—with rhymes about magical creatures, monsters, and dreadful children as well as adults. If you have read and loved Dahl books, you will be familiar with many of the poems in this collection but there are also some previously unpublished works that are delightful. There’s a verse that Dahl didn’t include in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” because he felt he had created just too many ghastly children and that there was simply no room for one more.
The book has a foreword and opening illustrations by Quentin Blake, who has previously illustrated 18 of Dahl’s books. The publisher has also roped in many talented young illustrators as well as award-winning artists such as Babette Cole, Lauren Child, Chris Riddell, Alel Scheffler and Tony Ross, to name a few, to work on the book. The end result is a fascinating hodgepodge of stories that jump out of the pages.
I have taken to reading a verse or two at bedtime and I love it. It’s how I unwind. No matter how difficult things have been, Dahl’s verses reassert life’s beauty and remind me of the importance of finding joy in the little things. It helps end the day on a positive, merry note, and I go to sleep smiling.