The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
By: Roald Dahl
1964; 1972
Rating: 3.5/5

The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka book cover

Everybody has seen at least one of the Willy Wonka movies. (The original is fantastic; go watch it now if you haven’t yet.)

But has everyone read the book?

The Complete Adventures of Charlie and Mr. Willy Wonka includes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which we all know so well, but also Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, which contains the immediate aftermath of the first book. In fact, the Great Glass Elevator takes place on the same day that Charlie tours the chocolate factory.

If this had just been Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it probably would’ve gotten a much higher rating.

The original is a classic for a reason.

It’s fabulous. It’s ingeniously written, it’s well developed, it’s entertaining, it’s quirky. It’s everything that you would expect it to be based off of the movie. And usually I’m all about reading the book before you see the movie, but with this one, it’s kind of fun to do it the other way around. There are many direct lines taken from the book, so you can picture Gene Wilder saying them, or Peter Ostrum, or Jack Albertson. It’s fantastic.

And the movie follows the book pretty well, so there’s nothing super shocking except for a complete lack of Slugworth, which makes for an interesting twist.

I really, really enjoyed the first half of this book.

But I feel like the second book, the Great Glass Elevator, kind of fell through. It’s weird and quirky and funny, but it’s kind of boring. There’s only so much action and a lot of repetition. There aren’t as many characters, no chocolate factory to speak of, predictable plotlines. I was underwhelmed.

But that doesn’t mean that a child wouldn’t enjoy it. And, well, since this is a children’s book…

It would be a fun one to read aloud.

And it’s definitely interesting to see the book behind the movie, since the movie is so ubiquitous in American culture.

So which do you prefer? The book, the original movie, or the Johnny Depp version? I think I still prefer my Gene Wilder.



If you liked these stories, check out these books:

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

Stuart Little by E. B. White

Matilda by Roald Dahl

The BFG by Roald Dahl


Coming up:

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

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