( 48 )


Where did Roald Dahl get all of his wonderful ideas for stories?

From his own life, of course! As full of excitement and the unexpected as his world-famous, best-selling books, Roald Dahl's tales of his own childhood are completely fascinating and fiendishly funny. Did you know that Roald Dahl nearly lost his nose in a car accident? Or that he was once a chocolate candy tester for Cadbury's? Have you heard about his involvement in the Great Mouse Plot of 1924? If not, you don’t ...

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Where did Roald Dahl get all of his wonderful ideas for stories?

From his own life, of course! As full of excitement and the unexpected as his world-famous, best-selling books, Roald Dahl's tales of his own childhood are completely fascinating and fiendishly funny. Did you know that Roald Dahl nearly lost his nose in a car accident? Or that he was once a chocolate candy tester for Cadbury's? Have you heard about his involvement in the Great Mouse Plot of 1924? If not, you don’t yet know all there is to know about Roald Dahl. Sure to captivate and delight you, the boyhood antics of this master storyteller are not to be missed!

Presents humorous anecdotes from the author's childhood which includes summer vacations in Norway and an English boarding school.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 5-Up—Here Dahl recounts memories from his earliest years through his teens, including terrorizing a candy-shop owner in the Great Mouse Plot of 1924, which he recounts with a mixture of abject apology and fiendish delight, as well as unfortunate run-ins with "the birch rod" at various educational institutions. In addition to the tales themselves, Dahl's reminisces are punctuated with explanations of esoteric references related to pre-World War II England and Norway which may be unfamiliar to the listener. This notwithstanding, modern children will still derive delight from the author's stories of his family, including his "Ancient Half Sister"; his summer vacations among the frigid fjords of Norway and eating fresh-caught fish from the sea; and his exploits in schools both greatly, and not-so-, dissimilar from their own. Adding another layer of charm is the excellent narration of Dan Stevens, best known as Downton Abbey's Matthew Crawley. Parents will enjoy listening to Dahl's tales as much as their children do, and all listeners will be eager to devour more tales from the author's companion volumes, More About Boy and Going Solo.—Michaela Schied, Indian River Middle School, Philadelphia, NY
Children's Literature - Jody J. Little
Dahl's autobiography of his first 20 years of life begins with a brief description of his parents' backgrounds, including his father's death when Dahl was only three years old. Dahl then moves into short memories from his childhood and school days beginning with his year in kindergarten and then the move to Llandaff Cathedral School. While at Llandaff, Dahl writes fondly of the local sweet shop owned by a "small skinny old hag with a moustache on her upper lip and a mouth as sour as a green gooseberry." He tells the story of finding a dead mouse at school and deciding with his friends to put the mouse in a candy jar at the sweet shop, a prank that eventually earns him four strokes of the headmaster's cane. At age nine, Dahl moves to boarding school where he begins to write a weekly letter home to his mother, a habit he continues for 32 years. His mother kept all the letters from Roald, and he includes many snippets of them throughout the book. The final section includes memories of his teen years at Repton School and his first job outside of school with the Shell Company. Fans of Roald Dahl's books will recognize details from his life, such as the sweet shop, Gobstoppers, the villainous adults, and the Cadbury Coffee Cream Bar, which later led to some of Dahl's most memorable children's books. Reviewer: Jody J. Little
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Fans of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda will be entranced by actor Derek Jacobi's amusing and captivating narration of the formative years of Dahl's life. Listening to the boyhood antics of this world famous and best-selling author provides a glimpse into where he got some of the plot ideas and inspirations for his most popular books. Dahl's upbringing was, by any standard, eccentric. In Boy (FS&G, 1984), the first of his two autobiographical titles (the second is Going Solo), he details many of his more unusual boyhood adventures, such as almost losing his nose in a car accident, the "Great Mouse Plot" of 1924, and boarding school antics in prose that will leave listeners laughing out loud. Jacobi's wry delivery is completely unselfconscious, and his pacing is perfect. This audio treat will appeal to Dahl fanatics of all ages.-Cindy Lombardo, Orrville Public Library, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611761894
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/26/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 510,469
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. He spent his childhood in England and, at age eighteen, went to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa. When World War II broke out, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. At the age of twenty-six he moved to Washington, D.C., and it was there he began to write. His first short story, which recounted his adventures in the war, was bought by The Saturday Evening Post, and so began a long and illustrious career.

After establishing himself as a writer for adults, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 while living in England with his family. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.

Roald Dahl is now considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Although he passed away in 1990, his popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant PeachMatildaThe BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.

Learn more about Roald Dahl on the official Roald Dahl Web site:


"I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means," a teacher once wrote in the young Roald Dahl's report card. "He seems incapable of marshaling his thoughts on paper." From such inauspicious beginnings emerged an immensely successful author whom The Evening Standard would one day dub "one of the greatest children's writers of all time."

Dahl may have been an unenthusiastic student, but he loved adventure stories, and when he finished school he went out into the world to have some adventures of his own. He went abroad as a representative of the Shell corporation in Dar-es-Salaam, and then served in World War II as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. After the war, Dahl began his writing career in earnest, publishing two well-received collections of short stories for adults, along with one flop of a novel.

The short stories, full of tension and subtle psychological horror, didn't seem to presage a children's author. Malcolm Bradbury wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "[Dahl's] characters are usually ignoble: he knows the dog beneath the skin, or works hard to find it." Yet this talent for finding, and exposing, the nastier sides of grown-up behavior served him well in writing for children. As Dahl put it, "Writing is all propaganda, in a sense. You can get at greediness and selfishness by making them look ridiculous. The greatest attribute of a human being is kindness, and all the other qualities like bravery and perseverance are secondary to that."

In 1953, Dahl married the actress Patricia Neal; two of his early children's books, James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) grew out of the bedtime stories he made up for their children. Elaine Moss, writing in the Times, called the latter "the funniest children's book I have read in years; not just funny but shot through with a zany pathos which touches the young heart." Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a colossal hit. A film version starring Gene Wilder was released in 1971 (as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), while James and the Giant Peach was made into a movie in 1996.

Dahl followed his initial successes with a string of bestsellers, including Danny, the Champion of the World, The Twits, The BFG, The Witches and Matilda. Some adults objected to the books' violence -- unpleasant characters (like James’s Aunts Sponge and Spiker) tend to get bumped off in grotesque and inventive ways -- but Dahl defended his stories as part of a tradition of gruesome fairy tales in which mean people get what they deserve. "These tales are pretty rough, but the violence is confined to a magical time and place," he said, adding that children like violent stories as long as they're "tied to fantasy and humor." By the time of his death in 1990, Dahl's mischievous wit had captivated so many readers that The Times called him "one of the most widely read and influential writers of our generation."

Good To Know

When Dahl was in school, he and his schoolmates occasionally served as new-product testers for the Cadbury chocolate company. Dahl used to dream of working in a chocolate manufacturer's inventing room. He wrote in his autobiography, "I have no doubt at all that, 35 years later, when I was looking for a plot for my second book for children, I remembered those little cardboard boxes and the newly invented chocolates inside them, and I began to write a book called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Dahl's first book for children, The Gremlins (1943), was a story about the mythical creatures that sabotaged British planes. (Dahl claimed for most of his life that he had coined the term "gremlins," but it had been in use by members of the Royal Air Force for years.) Walt Disney planned to use it as the basis for a movie, but the project was scrapped, and only 5,000 copies of the book were ever printed.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 13, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      Llandaff, Wales, England
    1. Date of Death:
      November 23, 1990
    2. Place of Death:
      Oxford, England

Table of Contents

Papa and Mama 13
Kindergarten, 1922-3 21
Llandaff Cathedral School, 1923-5 (age 7-9)
The Bicycle and the Sweet-shop 27
The Great Mouse Plot 35
Mr Coombes 38
Mrs Pratchett's Revenge 45
Going to Norway 51
The Magic Island 57
A Visit to the Doctor 64
St Peter's, 1925-9 (age 9-13)
First Day 69
Writing Home 74
The Matron 79
Homesickness 86
A Drive in the Motor-car 91
Captain Hardcastle 99
Little Ellis and the Boil 112
Goat's Tobacco 115
Repton and Shell, 1929-36 (age 13-20)
Getting Dressed for the Big School 123
Boazers 128
The Headmaster 130
Chocolates 133
Corkers 136
Fagging 140
Games and Photography 146
Goodbye School 151
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2000

    Very Good Book. I thought it kicked!

    I thought this book was excelent funny and awesome to read. I definetly recomend picking it up!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Roald Dahl's childhood memories that gave him his story ideas

    Boy, by Roald Dahl, is a book about his childhood memories as a boy growing up in England and Wales. He started his school years by going to a public school, but left after getting in trouble for scaring a sweet shop owner and getting punished. He left the school in Wales because his mother didn't like how he was punished so she took him out after him term was over. He went to an English prep school from then on and only got in trouble once more and became a successful student. Roald Dahl was Norwegian, every summer holiday they went to Norway to visit his grandparents and travel to "a magic island" off the coast of Norway, which was the thing he looked forward to each summer. His whole family went, his half brother, his half sister, his two sisters, his mother and their nanny, His father died when Roald Dahl has young, so he only knew his father a few years, not long enough to really know him in such a big family, but his father's wish was that one of his children went to an English school and that is what Roald Dahl did. Most all of Roald Dahl's childhood memories gave him his ideas for his books.

    If you like Roald Dahl and his books this book could be right for you. The book does have some gross parts that were descriptive, so if you don't mind that kind of detail and like to learn how authors get some of their ideas this book could be a good read for you. In many chapters you see some of his letters he wrote home from the boarding school he was at, one of the first ones was a list of things he wanted his mother to send him. "Please could you send me some conkers as quick as you can, but don't send to many, just send them in a tin and wrap it up in paper." Some of the letters are hard to read because they are written out. This book was a good and interesting read for me and I recommend it to you if you often wonder how authors get some of their ideas.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2001

    a heartwarming tale

    Full of delightful stories that will draw from the reader both giggles and tears, Boy is a book that should not be missed. In it, Roald Dahl frames the narrative with his years at English boarding schools though it's not only about the different schools. The reader learns much about this great writer's family and, most enjoyably, about some of the experiences he later based his most beloved books on. Visit Llandaff Cathedral School and the sweets shop run by Mrs. Pratchett where the Great Mouse Plot of 1924. Take a trip with the Dahl family during the summer holidays to their homeland of Norway (especially that one summer when Roald stuffs his half-sister's fiancee's pipe with something that was not quite tobacco). Learn about the awful Boazers and their cruel treatment of the Fags (the poor boys under their command). Take a trip back in time to the first half of Twentieth Century England with Roald Dahl and come out in the end feeling like you've just spent several hours with an old, very dear friend. If you're familiar with the novels and short stories of Mr. Dahl, you'll be especially delighted with Boy - Tales of Childhood. The reader will find himself or herself in disturbingly familiar situations that itch at the brain until finally the light dawns and the connection is made. If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself shouting out the names of the stories that come to mind when it clicks! I won't tell you which stories I mean. You'll have to read this excellent book for yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2000

    Simply The Best

    This book was awesome! I was so happy to read it to find out what Roald's life was about! I laughed, i cried! Everyone who loves Roald should read it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2000

    The Story behind the mind of the Author

    A Great book revealing Roald Dahl's boy-hood. Being one of my favourite authors it was quite an interesting journey. It also teaches you about their culture, life-style and and the hardships children had to go through back then.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2000



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2014

    To #2

    Dont do that jerk face you coud hert some bodys fealings little kids read this you know

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    Important for fanz of r.d

    Hahahaahahaa !!! You peeps are too dum to not know that that was a trik.hahahaha!
    From the greatest one in da world... tarrantules

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2014


    Loved it

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  • Posted September 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I¿ve always been a big Roald Dahl fan, both of his books and the

    I’ve always been a big Roald Dahl fan, both of his books and the books that have been turned into movies. I loved “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Matilda” just to name a few.

    I had been meaning to read “Boy” and “Going Solo,” Dahl’s two memoirs, and started them the other day. I was unbelievably surprised to find out that Roald Dahl’s birthday was September 13th (and he would have been 96 years old)! I mean, what kind of coincidence is that?

    Anyway, I decided to talk about both books in one post because they are very much related. ”Boy” is the story of Dahl’s childhood, and follows his life up to age 20. ”Boy” is filled with humorous stories that have inspired many of his books.

    For instance, we learn that Dahl attended boarding schools under mean headmasters, and an even nastier matron, who bears a striking resemblance to the Trunchbull from “Matilda.”

    Dahl spent his early elementary days, aged 7-9, obsessed with a neighborhood candy shop and the Gobstoppers inside it (inspiration for Willy Wonka?), and even had his hand (ah, I made a pun that will only be recognizable if you read the book!) in a prank on the candy shopkeeper that he calls the Great Mouse Plot of 1924.

    Dahl was also lucky enough to go to a boarding school that Cadbury would send samples to in order to find out what kind of chocolates young boys enjoyed!

    “Boy” is a fabulous read, with many stories that can easily be linked to some of his most popular novels.

    I highly recommend reading “Boy” is you want a humorous look at the youth of one of the most famous and well-loved children’s authors.

    “Going Solo,” on the other hand, would be better for those people who wanted to know more about Dahl’s military life, which contained fewer references and story lines related to the books we grew up with.

    “Going Solo” was about Roald Dahl’s experiences in the military, with exploits about flying planes and secret missions. While I liked the book, I did get bored with the military aspect towards the end. If you like Roald Dahl and enjoy reading about the military, you might enjoy “Going Solo.” Otherwise, stick with “Boy,” which is a read that I think many more people would enjoy.

    What is your all time favorite Roald Dahl story? You can share your thoughts with me at my LoveAtFirstBook blog!

    Thanks for reading,


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  • Posted March 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining autobiography

    I'm not much of a biography reader, but a long time ago I read a somewhat autobiographical short story by Roald Dahl in his collection The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More---I believe it was called "A Piece of Cake." It was so fantastic, so funny, that I've actually been wanting to read more about Dahl's life ever since. While this was enjoyable, certainly more enjoyable than many other biographies I've read, the tone was a little too avuncular for my taste. Much of the spice and outrageous humor I remember from "A Piece of Cake" is missing. That said, I did enjoy the glimpses he offered of Norway, British boarding schools, and a child's life at the start of the 20th century.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2009

    A Great Book

    I really like this book! I think this is one of Roald Dahl's best books. I like how he finds his book stories from his childhood memories. I also like his adventures as a kid. I don't think kids these days would do crazy things like that but you do have to admit they are funny. You would wonder how this man would get his ideas for his book but when you read this, you know all about it. Again I really like this book and how he describes his childhood.:p

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  • Posted November 21, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The most memorable book of my childhood.

    Dahl's wit and sensible humor impress me beyond belief. I wish I had the knack for description that not only amuses children but adults as well. The stories of his childhood have stuck with me and have become a part of my own childhood memories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2008

    goodish bookish

    This book is mainly obout R.Dahl's life as a child. It talks about his school's when he was a kid, his vacations, and some of the exciting things that happened when he was a kid.R.Dahl was good at engaging me because some of the stuff he talked about was kind of cool, like when his nose almost got snapped all the way off. I liked that some of the stuff that happened were crazy and unbelievable, but I also question whether some of these things really happened. I reccomend this book to anybody who like R.Dahl because it is about R.Dahl's life as a child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2008

    Humorous tale

    This story is about Roald Dahl's childhood adventures. Whether it's going to boarding school, or putting a rat into a jar of candy. This adventurous tale will keep you reading till the very last page, while laughing the whole time. I liked how it was real. It did not seem to have any added things in it. However I did not like how it was simple. I would recommend this book to others as time filler. I would also recommend this book to younger kids. It would be a good read for them, not to hard, not to easy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2008

    A hilarious, yet depressing book about the long road through a boy¿s childhood

    ¿When my father was fourteen he was up on the roof of the family house replacing loose tiles when he slipped and fell. He broke his left arm and lower elbow. Somebody ran to fetch the doctor, and a half and hour later this gentlemen made a majestic and drunken arrival in horse-drawn buggy. He was so drunk he mistook the fractured elbow for a dislocated shoulder.¿ Boy, is the true story about Roald Dahl, a boy who grows up with three sisters and he¿s the only boy. He has to go through some hard times, including his father committing suicide shortly after his favorite sister Astri had died from appendicitis. Also, his beating he gets at school. So from that point on it was him and his remaining sisters and his mother. They moved from Norway to the United States and went to a private school called St.Peters, were he started his educated journey. This book is a very funny and sad the book is funny because he pulled many pranks on people, and the book is sad because he loses many people that are close to him. I would recommend this book to most kids who like to read about growing up. His life was pretty hard but he made the most of it. When I was reading this book I felt that Roald Dahl had a very good education but he didn¿t get to spend a lot of time with his family. One of the relationships between my life and his is when he faked sick so he could stay home for a couple of days. Roald Dahl has written many books and he has won lots of awards. I think Roald Dahl is a fantastic author. Another book by Roald Dahl including The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2007

    Good Stories, however

    This book is certainly different from Mr. Dahl's other tales such as Matilda or the BFG. It is about his life as a boy growing up. There are a lot of times in Mr. Dahl's life that were not very pleasant. It makes me realize just how good life for a child can be today. For example, the terrible paddling a child recieved when suspected of breaking school rules. It terrified the others. It's a good book just with a different flavor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2007

    Reeeeally boring.

    This book was good in the beginning, and then it went on and on and on and on and on and on and... well you get the point. But, he could of figured out a way of making it more interesting instead of just laying it out there. I know it may be a true story but... I've heard better non-fiction books about Buildings :]

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    Boy Review

    Ok I thought that this book was a little bit boring but its still a good book but i lost interest in it. I felt that the book was not able to grasp my attention enough so that I would read more and that is what books are supposed to do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2007

    this book is great

    i love this book it's a great one for kids and grownups alike. fun family reading

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews

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