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The Umbrella Man and Other Stories

The Umbrella Man and Other Stories

4.0 7
by Roald Dahl

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Is it really possible to invent a machine that does the job of a writer? What is it about the landlady's house that makes it so hard for her guests to leave? Does Sir Basil Turton value most his wife or one of his priceless sculptures? These compelling tales are a perfect introduction to the adult writing of a storytelling genius.


Is it really possible to invent a machine that does the job of a writer? What is it about the landlady's house that makes it so hard for her guests to leave? Does Sir Basil Turton value most his wife or one of his priceless sculptures? These compelling tales are a perfect introduction to the adult writing of a storytelling genius.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW called the 13 tales here, all of which previously appeared in collections for adult readers, "Dahl at his merciless best." Ages 12-up. (July) n Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
VOYA - Richard Gercken
Purportedly chosen to appeal to young readers, these thirteen stories have few young characters and lack that special Dahl-ian (who is now deceased) appeal of children turning the tables on parents or other adults. Most of the stories do contain Dahl's surprise twist for an end, however; in fact, more than one offer the oxymoron of a predictable surprise. The long story Katina contains remarkable, concise description and sustains a wartime mood. The Way Up to Heaven portrays with conviction a mousy wife dominated by her husband, but overall the stories tend to be short on setting, character, and development. The Umbrella Man and the thirty-three-page Parson's Pleasures are essentially anecdotes. Dahl's wicked humor is usually present along with considerable suspense and bizarre subjects, like bees and their secretion of royal jelly, which one can imagine no other writer taking on as springboards. But one problem in Dahl's writing is particularly evident in Vengeance is Mine, Inc. The story is set in America and has all American characters, but the characters talk about paraffin stoves and the late afternoon post. While young adults who are good, habitual readers might enjoy the plots and the turnarounds, most American teens will not be galvanized by stories whose narrative lines feature the value of fur coats, collecting antique furniture, boarding houses in Bath, or vintage wines. Though the publisher classifies the reading level as young adult, even the dust jacket seems more suitable for children, or adults, than young adults. This book was originally published in England as The Great Automatic Grammatizator. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Here's another collection of Dahl's adult stories carefully selected for the teenage crowd who have grown beyond the author's raffish novels for youngsters. The same wry intelligence is obviously behind these tales. Most of them are sly put-ons waiting for the inevitable comeuppance of their slightly shady, or sometimes too innocent, characters. Dahl always wrote well, though, and in "Katrina," a story gleaned from his fighter pilot experience in Greece during World War II, his descriptions turn evocative and moving. These are the sort of stories one means to put down, then finds oneself inexplicably in the middle of the next.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Readers who were turned on to chapter books with the magic of Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970) and the wondrous James and the Giant Peach (1961, both Knopf) will be interested to discover that Dahl began his writing career composing adult short stories--macabre, ironic tales that were translated into scripts for a popular TV series. This collection, based on those tales, is perfect for teen sensibilities. These poisonous gems reflect a British black humor sniping at greedy, pretentious folk. The language is precise, without an extraneous adjective; "The Landlady" is indeed "terribly nice" and Lady Turton of "Neck" prances and snorts like a barely restrained high-strung filly. Teachers looking for examples of irony need look no further than "Parson's Pleasure," in which an overeager antique collector gets exactly what he asks for. Feminists may be a bit offended; Dahl's antipathy for the female sex is rather evident throughout the stories. Wife and family are often an encumbrance in his world. "Royal Jelly" stars a father who is overinvolved in the caring for and feeding of his new offspring; it is a delicious morsel to serve to grown up "Goosebumps" fans. This baker's dozen is a treat for all YA collections.-Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews
A baker's dozen of barbed, witty, obliquely macabre short stories, most drawn fromþor at least previously published inþTales of the Unexpected (1979, 1990). Additionally, there is a heart-rending wartime story of a young Greek orphan adopted by a beleaguered RAF squadron, a hilarious tale of two airheads who decide to make a fortune from grateful socialites by punching a gossip columnist in the nose, and "The Great Automatic Grammatizator," a period piece about a primitive computer that whips out hugely profitable novels and stories in minutes. Nearly every story ends with a twist: a scam revealed or going wrong; a sinister revelation; or, as in the final entry, "Neck," a sudden conclusion that derails carefully established expectations. Several stories show their age in dated details, or are slow to develop, and younger fans may find many of the conversations as tedious as the lengthy, satirically exact speeches about bees, wine, and antique furniture. Still, this sampler of Dahl's writing at least conveys a sense of his versatility. (Short stories. 13+)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
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Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
810 KB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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: www.roalddahl.com

Brief Biography

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

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The Umbrella Man and Other Stories 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. A shame that Barnes and Noble tool 20 days to deliver it, despite it being in stock.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection contains a variety of witty stories that won't disappoint.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great collection of Dahl's short stories. Recommended for those who like Dahl's stories, with the touch of his way of writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is full of short, entertaining stories. Once you start reading one of the stories you won't want to stop! Take it from me...I am a very picky reader who has to be entertained constantly when reading! This book did that! The stories never end how you would expect them to! There are always exciting twists and turns! There was only one story in this book that I did not enjoy!