Hello and welcome to the Happy 100th Birthday Roald Dahl blog tour!
I don’t know about you but Roald Dahl was a staple of my childhood so when Penguin was putting together this tour I jumped at the chance to be on it. I was momentarily stumped by what to talk about, he’s written SO MANY BOOKS and of that bibliography I have SO MANY FAVS and if you know me, you know I am absolute garbage at picking favorites.
So, I’m cheating. I’m not talking about any one specific book, I’m combining my childhood love with my adulthood career/interest and talking about the cover illustrations (have I mentioned I like and do cover design? Have I talked about that to death and back?)
When I think of Roald Dahl, the wacky and weird illustrations are every bit as iconic as the stories themselves.
Look at them. They perfectly capture the creepy whimsy that characterizes Dahl’s books.
Settle in guys, here comes the nerdalicious history lesson.
Who is the genius behind these covers? Well, that would be Quentin Blake, children’s book illustrator extraordinaire.
Blake is a bit of a legend. Over the course of his 50+ year career he’s hand illustrated over 300 children’s books (covers and interiors) including the first Dr. Seuss book Suess didn’t illustrate himself. Most recently he illustrated the newly discovered Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Kitty-In Boots at the age of 82. He’s won loads of awards, including the inaugural UK Children’s Laureate and, also, he’s a knight. Like I said, a bit of a legend.
His collaboration with Roald Dahl is arguably his most consistent and prominent partnership. Around about 1975, Dahl was shopping around for a new publisher and was paired up with Blake to illustrate The Enormous Crocodile, a boundary-defying tale of a child-eating crocodile (I have a feeling Dahl was the type to spit at any but someone think of the childrens sort of arguments but that’s just me).
Though Dahl was reportedly initially wary of any lasting relationship with Blake, the collaboration was a success and their partnership was born. Blake’s had a knack for bringing to life the magical juxtaposition of weird, slightly off-putting subject matter and warmth and magic of Dahl’s stories.
The juggernaut pair worked closely together (Dahl once mailed Blake his sandal to use as a model for the BFG’s shoes) right up until Dahl’s death and Blake continued working with his writing posthumously, including re-illustrating all of Dahl’s work pre-crocodile era and a number of books associated with Roald Dahl.
For more information please visit www.roalddahl.com/usa
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Don’t forget to enter the giveaway, generously provided by Penguin, for a chance to win a Roald Dahl prize-pack.