Dear Mr. Roald Dahl,
Before I begin – thank you.
You’re probably not shocked that I’m writing to you. I don’t mean that you just assume that you will get letters from fans, though. What I mean is that you’re probably not shocked because you don’t know me. You don’t know about my love of another author. Almost everyone who knows me knows that I love the Harry Potter series and they were probably expecting me to write to J.K. Rowling. And she is an awesome lady. But I have loved your books far longer than I have loved hers. I mean, she even owes something to you – did you know that a review of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone was compared to your books?
Alas, ten years or so have passed since I first read your books, so I cannot remember which one I read first. Maybe I didn’t read the first one; my mom might have read it aloud to me. I think the first one was Matilda, but it might have been James and the Giant Peach. Or maybe it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Oh, I don’t know. Does it really even matter? What matters is that I loved your books as soon as I read them.
I loved the characters. I felt weird in kindergarten because I could already read; most of the other kids couldn’t yet. I appreciated that Matilda was also smart for her age, that her intelligence saved the day, and that her peers admired her. (Sadly, my classmates did not feel the same way. My parents tell me that other kids made fun of me because I was advanced for my age.) I loved the thrill of terror I got when I read about parents like Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood or relatives-turned-guardians like the Aunts Sponge and Spiker. Even if I occasionally got mad at my parents, at least they weren’t stupid, television-obsessed crooks or spiteful slave drivers. (Well, maybe the second isn’t quite true… I’m just kidding, Mom and Dad!) But for a while, I could feel as frustrated and scared as Matilda and James did. That was the first time I realized just how much fun it can be to step into the shoes of a character and experience their life.
I loved your creativity. When you wanted to express something in The BFG and there wasn’t a word for it, you just made one up. Your characters are so zany; Willy Wonka is only one example. I loved your wordplay. The “square candies that look round” still make me laugh. So do all the BFG’s malapropisms.
I loved the mood of your books. You have a wonderful way of knowing how to balance the light, humorous, and playful with the dark, serious, and moody. That’s another thing that Rowling owes you – people who know me may have heard me blathering on about how she balances light and dark. I think the mood in both your books and hers shows the mood of life itself. One minute life is a grin; the next, a frown. We couldn’t appreciate the light if we didn’t have the dark. I have not found any other authors who balance the two quite so well, making me laugh until I cry on one page and grieve until I cry on the next. When I read Boy, the autobiography of your childhood, I understood why your sense of humor was sometimes dark. You didn’t have the greatest childhood. And you lost a child. And you almost lost another.
I don’t really remember feeling sad when I was little. But I can still remember deciding to write a letter to you because I loved your books so much. I couldn’t have been more than six or seven. I flipped to the back cover of Boy – yes, I still know which book I was reading when I found out – where the author biography was. I wanted to see where you lived now so that I would know where to send my letter. And that was when I saw that you’d died in 1990, six years before I was even born. I suppose I should have expected it; you were born in 1916, after all. But I can still remember feeling the sense of crushing disappointment that I couldn’t write to you. And now I am writing to you. I know that you won’t get my letter in the real world and I don’t believe in heaven. From what I’ve read, you weren’t so sure if you believed in it either. Anyway, I’d like to think that you’re in Giant Country after the bad giants have been defeated, collecting dreams with the BFG. I’d like to think that, somehow, you’ll get my letter.
Before I end – thank you.