Books are a funny thing.
When you spread the word about your undying love for those little volumes of happiness – and your daughter’s reluctance to worship them as much as you do – people somehow come and find you. When you think you’re a lonely voice in an ocean of Peppa Pig merchandising and Elsa dresses, someone will reach out a loving hand, shouting “HELP IS COMING.” You’d expect that eager librarians and devoted parents would get in touch to ask you to join their respective book clubs (which I’d gladly do! Please get in touch!), but you’d never expect a place like, uhm, McDonald’s, to come and say “You’re not alone”. Not unless we’re talking about, uhm, being hungry?
But I was talking about books, and they’ve found me. But before I had a chance to say “you must be gobblefunking around”, they told me they had a plan crazier than flying to New York City in a giant peach: they had partnered with none other than Penguin Random House Children’s UK, the National Literacy Trust, and hold your breath, the Roald Dahl Literary Estate to distribute 14 MILLION Road Dahl books in 6 weeks! Gloriumptious!
I’m a HUGE Road Dahl fan. I’ve tried to become Matilda before I found out she already existed. I’ve wanted to speak like the Big Friendly Giant since before I learned English in my 20s (not being very successful at it, as you’ve probably noticed). I’ve even acted as an extra in Tim Burton’s version of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (I dare you to find me in Veruca Salt’s Dad’s factory, unwrapping millions of chocolate bars!)
So I took O to their launching event where she turned into a phizz-whizzing little miss fox and listened to whoopsy-splunkers actors reading some of the books to be distributed. It worked wonders – O is already planning her Ms Spider outfit for the Road Dahl extravaganza at school.
They’re also launching an accompanying app with a voice-activated feature that responds with noises and graphics when you read aloud – I’ve yet to test it, but it sounds like a whoopsy wiffling tool, as I’m a terrible actor.
Now, for disclosure purposes – after all, if you’re a parent reading this, you want to trust me, don’t you? So there is: O is not really allowed to eat McDonald’s (unless we’re talking about the bag of fruits and bottles of water – ok, maybe the gloriumptious fries, if I’m hard pressed for alternatives). She is only 4, after all, and I’m adamant she should eat home-cooked meals, fruit and veg as much as she can. The world of fast food will eventually entice her for good and I won’t have much to say, but until then I want her to understand that well, treats should be treats – meaning, “rare”.
That said, other than Coca-Cola and Apple (I was going to say the evangelical church, but only Brazilians would understand that), I don’t know anyone who’s got a bigger scope across the country – and the world! – to reach out as many people with that jumpsquiffling message: that reading is GAZZUMPTIOUSLY GREAT, reading Road Dahl is even phizzwizzingly better.
“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray
Go throw your TV set away
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall…”