Spy, fighter pilot, celebrated writer.

Who could be in possession such an extensive resume, but Roald Dahl? Author of such beloved children’s books as Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many more, Dahl’s enchanting, funny, whimsical tales have been adored by children worldwide for decades.

Each year, Roald Dahl Day is celebrated on his birthday, September 13th, to commemorate Dahl’s extraordinary imagination and his contributions to children’s literature. Needless to say, here at IQBar, we are big fans!

Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, Dahl was named after Roald Amundsen, the famed Norwegian explorer who was the first man to reach the south pole. An adventurer’s name may have been appropriate for Dahl, who spent his youth travelling in Canada and East Africa, where he worked for an Oil company until the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the conflict, he served with the British Royal Air Force, flying Gladiator fighter planes over North Africa and Greece, as well as later serving with the British intelligence service, MI6. In September 1940, Dahl’s aircraft crashed in western Libya, and he suffered severe injuries to his head and neck, spending six months in a Swiss hospital. These dramatic events became the inspiration for Dahl’s first published short story, A Piece of Cake, and the rest, as they say, was history. His experiences in the RAF may have also inspired his first children’s book, The Gremlins, about mischievous little creatures who were blamed for mechanical problems with aircraft and were a part of RAF folklore.

From then, until his death in 1990 at the age of 74, Dahl was a prodigious and well-loved writer. His credits have included children’s classics, short stories for adults, Hollywood screenplays (including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and James Bond film You Only Live Twice), and an autobiography, Boy in 1984.

September’s Roald Dahl Day celebrates the author’s birth month with a wide array of events, including parties, games and activities, dress-up days at schools, and even a festival at the Natural History Museum in London, inspired by the insects from James and the Giant Peach. These are designed to promote children’s literature and raise money for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, aimed at empowering seriously ill children to live a marvellous life.

These imaginative and wonderful stories have inspired countless children to love reading and will continue to do so for many years to come.

For ideas on how to celebrate Roald Dahl day, get involved at www.roalddahl.com

Dahl was famous for his inventive use of language. Can you identify what the following words mean?

  1. What is ‘frobscottle’? A) A drink. B) A giant. C) Nonsense.
  2. What is a ‘Vermicious Knid’? A) Chocolate bar. B) An alien. C) A trap for catching foxes.
  3. What are ‘minpins’? A) Devices for catching naughty children. B) A race of small forest dwellers. C) The teeth of a giant monster.
  4. If something is ‘linkswishy,’ it is A) Very expensive. B) Soft. C) Delicious.
  5. Which of the following means ‘small and unimportant’? A) Pibbling. B) Grinksludging. C) Biffsquiggling.

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