This year Penguin Young Readers and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate are celebrating 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl —the world’s number one storyteller.
Roald's imagination has transported millions of readers into other worlds, whether on the hunt for a golden ticket, or meeting friendly giants. These stories have brought generations together, and continue to be a staple in our libraries, schools, and homes. As part of the celebration, Penguin Young Readers has released brand new covers for his books. I'm beyond excited and honored to be able to share with you the new cover for Esio Trot and an excerpt.
Excerpt from Esio Trot p9-23
Mr Hoppy lived in a small flat high up in a tall concrete building. He lived alone. He had always been a lonely man and now that he was retired from work he was more lonely than ever.
There were two loves in Mr Hoppy’s life. One was the flowers he grew on his balcony. They grew in pots and tubs and baskets, and in summer the little balcony became a riot of colour. Mr Hoppy’s second love was a secret he kept entirely to himself.
The balcony immediately below Mr Hoppy’s jutted out a good bit further from the building than his own, so Mr Hoppy always had a fine view of what was going on down there. This balcony belonged to an attractive middle-aged lady called Mrs Silver. Mrs Silver was a widow who also lived alone. And although she didn’t know it, she was the object of Mr Hoppy’s secret love. He had loved her from his balcony for many years, but he was a very shy man and he had never been able to bring himself to give her even the smallest hint of his love.
Every morning, Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver exchanged polite conversation, the one looking down from above, the other looking up, but that was as far as it ever went. The distance between their balconies might not have been more than a few yards, but to Mr Hoppy it seemed like a million miles. He longed to invite Mrs Silver up for a cup of tea and a biscuit, but every time he was about to form the words on his lips, his courage failed him. As I said, he was a very very shy man.
Oh, if only, he kept telling himself, if only he could do something tremendous like saving her life or rescuing her from a gang of armed thugs, if only he could perform some great feat that would make him a hero in her eyes. If only…
The trouble with Mrs Silver was that she gave all her love to somebody else, and that somebody was a small tortoise named Alfie. Everyday, when Mr Hoppy looked over his balcony and saw Mrs Silver whispering endearments to Alfie and stroking his shell, he felt absurdly jealous. He wouldn’t even have minded becoming a tortoise himself if it meant Mrs. Silver stroking his shell each morning and whispering endearments to him.
Alfie had been with Mrs Silver for years and he lived on her balcony summer and winter. Planks had been placed around the sides of the balcony so that Alfie could walk about without toppling over the edge, and in one corner there was a little house into which Alfie would crawl every night to keep warm.
When the colder weather came along in November, Mrs Silver would fill Alfie’s house with dry hay, and the tortoise would crawl in there and bury himself deep under the hay and go to sleep for months on end without food or water. This is called hibernating.
In early spring, when Alfie felt the warmer weather through his shell, he would wake up and crawl very slowly out of his house onto the balcony. And Mrs Silver would clap her hands with joy and cry out, “Welcome back, my darling one! Oh, how I have missed you!”
It was at times like these that Mr Hoppy wished more than ever that he could change places with Alfie and become a tortoise.
Now we come to a certain bright morning in May when something happened that changed and indeed electrified Mr Hoppy’s life. He was leaning over his balcony rail watching Mrs Silver serving Alfie his breakfast.
“Here’s the heart of lettuce for you, my lovely,” she was saying. “And here’s a slice of fresh tomato and a piece of crispy celery.”
“Good morning, Mrs Silver,” Mr Hoppy said. “Alfie’s looking well this morning.”
“Isn’t he gorgeous!” Mrs Silver said, looking up at him and beaming at him.
“Absolutely gorgeous,” Mr Hoppy said, not meaning it. And now, as he looked down at Mrs Silver’s smiling face gazing up into his own, he thought for the thousandth time how pretty she was, how sweet and gentle and full of kindness, and his heart ached with love.
“I do so wish he would grow a little faster,” Mrs Silver was saying. “Every spring, when he wakes up from his winter sleep, I weigh him on the kitchen scales. And do you know that in all the eleven years I’ve had him he’s not gained more than three ounces! That’s almost nothing!”
“What does he weigh now?” Mr Hoppy asked her.
“Just about thirteen ounces,” Mrs Silver answered. “About as much as a grapefruit.”
“Yes, well, tortoises are very slow growers,” Mr Hoppy said solemnly. “But they can live for a hundred years.”
“I know that,” Mrs Silver said. “But I do so wish he would grow just a little bit bigger. He’s such a tiny wee fellow.”
“He seems just fine as he is,” Mr Hoppy said.
“No, he’s not just fine!” Mrs Silver cried. “Try to think how miserable it must make him feel to be so titchy! Everyone wants to grow up.”
“You really would love him to grow bigger, wouldn’t you?” Mr Hoppy said, and even as he said it his mind suddenly went click and an amazing idea came rushing into his head.
“Of course I would!” Mrs Silver cried. “I’d give anything to make it happen! Why, I’ve seen pictures of giant tortoises that are so huge people can ride on their backs! If Alfie were to see those he’d turn green with envy!”
Mr Hoppy’s mind was spinning like a flywheel. Here, surely, was his big chance! Grab it, he told himself. Grab it quick!
“Mrs Silver,” he said. “I do actually happen to know how to make tortoises grow faster, if that’s what you really want.”
“You do?” she cried. “Oh, please tell me! Am I feeding him the wrong things?”
“I worked in North Africa once,” Mr Hoppy said. “That’s where all these tortoises in England come from, and a bedouin tribesman told me the secret.”
“Tell me!” cried Mrs Silver. “I beg you to tell me, Mr Hoppy! I’ll be your slave for life.”
When he heard the words your slave for life, a little shiver of excitement swept through Mr Hoppy. “Wait there,” he said. “I’ll have to go in and write something down for you.”
In a couple of minutes Mr Hoppy was back on the balcony with a sheet of paper in his hand. “I’m going to lower it to you on a bit of string,” he said, “or it might blow away. Here it comes.”
Mrs Silver caught the paper and held it up in front of her. This is what she read:
ESIO TROT, ESIO TROT,
TEG REGGIB REGGIB!
EMOC NO, ESIO TROT,
WORG PU, FFUP PU, TOOHS PU!
GNIRPS PU, WOLB PU, LLEWS PU!
EGROG! ELZZUG! FFUTS! PLUG!
TUP NO TAF, ESIO TROT, TUP NO TAF!
TEG NO, TEG NO! ELBBOG DOOF!
copyright © Quentin Blake, reprinted with permission from Penguin Young Readers
Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and beloved storytellers. He was born in Wales of Norwegian parents and spent much of his childhood in England. After establishing himself as a writer for adults with short story collections such as Kiss Kiss and Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl began writing children's stories in 1960 while living with his family in both the U.S. and in England. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.
Roald Dahl’s first children’s story, The Gremlins, was a story about little creatures that were responsible for the various mechanical failures on airplanes. The Gremlins came to the attention of both First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who loved to read the story to her grandchildren, and Walt Disney, with whom Roald Dahl had discussions about the production of a movie.
Roald Dahl was inspired by American culture and by many of the most quintessential American landmarks to write some of his most memorable passages, such as the thrilling final scenes in James and the Giant Peach - when the peach lands on the Empire State Building! Upon the publication of James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl began work on the story that would later be published as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and today, Roald Dahl’s stories are available in 58 languages and, by a conservative estimate, have sold more than 200 million copies.
Roald Dahl also enjoyed great success for the screenplays he wrote for both the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967 and for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, released one year later, which went on to become a beloved family film. Roald Dahl’s popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.
Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s memory: the first charity, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, created in 1991, focuses on making life better for seriously ill children through the funding of specialist nurses, innovative medical training, hospitals, and individual families across the UK.
The second charity, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. 10% of income from Roald Dahl books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities.
On September 13, 2006, the first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated, on what would have been the author’s 90th birthday. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually all over the world. September 13, 2016 is Roald Dahl 100, marking 100 years since the birth of the world’s number one storyteller. There will be celebrations for Roald Dahl 100 throughout 2016, delivering a year packed with gloriumptious treats and surprises for everyone.
ROALD DAHL 100 CELEBRATORY BLOG TOUR
September 5 - Peace Loves Books - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Excerpt
September 5 - The Compulsive Reader - Danny, The Champion of the World Review
September 5 - The Starry Eyed Revue - James and The Giant Peach Review
September 6 - Ex Libris Kate - The Witches Review
September 6 - Cracking The Cover - The Magic Finger Feature - Short Review and History
September 6 - Lost In Lit - The Witches Feature - Revisiting The Witches as an adult
September 7 - Cozy Reading Corner - Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator Excerpt
September 7 - The Plot Bunny - The Magic Finger Review
September 7 - Lilli's Reflections - The Twits Excerpt
September 8 - The Irish Banana - Matilda Review
September 8 - Ticket To Anywhere - Danny, The Champion of the World Excerpt
September 8 - Cuddlebuggery - Quentin Blake's Illustrations of Roald Dahl's Books Feature
September 8 - Beth Fish Reads - Going Solo Review
September 9 - Ravenous Reader - The BFG Excerpt
September 9 - Paper Cuts - The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me Excerpt
September 9 - The Lovely Books - The Witches Excerpt
September 9 - A Glass of Wine - James and the Giant Peach Excerpt
September 10 - Novel Novice - George's Marvelous Medicine Excerpt
September 10 - YA Bibliophile - Fantastic Mr. Fox Review
September 10 - Watercolor Moods - The Magic Finger Feature - Collage
September 11- Jessabella Reads - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Review
September 11- Who R U Blog - Charlie and the Glass Elevator Feature - Trivia
September 12 - Belle of the Library - The Twits Review
September 12 - Book Mania Life - George's Marvelous Medicine Review
September 12 - The Book Swarm - Danny, The Champion of the World Excerpt
September 12 - Book Belles - James and the Giant Peach Feature - Book to Movie
Brittany's Book Rambles - Matilda Excerpt- Roald's birthday! -
Mundie Kids - The BFG Review- Roald's birthday! -
Read Now Sleep Later - Boy Excerpt- Roald's birthday! -
Consumed By Books - Matilda Excerpt- Roald's birthday -
The Novel Life - Lessons that Roald Dahl has taught me feature-
- The Book Rat - Esio Trot Excerpt
Belle's Bash - The BFG Excerpt-
WinterHaven Books - Esio Trot Excerpt-
A Book and A Latte - The Magic Finger Excerpt-
Hello Chelly - Matilda Feature - BookBags-
Loving Dem Books - Youtube Feature-
Writing My Own Fairy-Tale - George's Marvelous Medicine Review-
The Book Bandit -The Giraffe, and the Pelly and Me Review-
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile - Esio Trot Review-
Coffee, Books and Me - Top Ten Reasons You Should Read Roald Dahl's Books-
Undeniably Book Nerdy - Boy Review-
Supernatural Snark - James and the Giant Peach Review-
My Friend Amy - Going Solo Excerpt-
The Quiet Concert - Danny, the Champion of the World Review-
Book Briefs - Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator-
Andi's ABCs - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Feature - ABCs-
Just Another Rabid Reader - The Magic Finger Review-
Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia - Roald Dahl Feature - Food Feature-
Bumbles and Fairy-Tales - Matilda Feature - Reading With Dad-
Addicted 2 Novels - Esio Trot Review-
Pure Imagination - Fantastic Mr. Fox Excerpt-
Green Bean Teen Queen - What Roald Dahl Means To Me Feature-
Bookiemoji - The Witches Excerpt-
Shooting Stars Blog - Roald Dahl Feature - Etsy Products-
Alexa Loves Books - Matilda Feature - Style Files-
Nightly Reading - Matilda Review-