Now, we have already established that Roald Dahl is a genius and one of the greatest children’s writers of all time, which cannot be disputed as it is most definitely a True Fact. For all those strange beings who must have had a deprived childhood and therefore do not believe this to be a True Fact, prepare to have all your doubts assuaged (what a cracking word) by the joy that is George’s Marvellous Medicine.
George is a little boy who lives with his parents and his grandma. His parents are often busy running their farm, and so George is left alone with his grandma and strict instructions to administer her medicine. But George’s grandma isn’t a nice little old grandma like most of us have, who likes to bake cakes for the WI, crochet dolls’ clothes for the grandchildren and grow tomatoes in the greenhouse. George’s grandma is mean and crotchety, likes to eat slugs and earwigs, and especially likes to make George miserable and uncomfortable. To try and liven her up a bit, and give her a bit of a shaking up, George decides to give her a medicine of his own concoction, made out of various household items relating to cookery, cosmetics and pet care. I don’t quite know what exactly George was hoping would happen, but the results were certainly rather unexpected.
The first thing to notice about George’s Marvellous Medicine, after the afore-mentioned genius of Roald Dahl of course, are the fabulous illustrations by Quentin Blake. I find it incredibly hard to disassociate Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl in my mind, which isn’t surprising considering that Blake illustrated eighteen of Roald Dahl’s books (or so Wikipedia informs me). They seem to be very well suited. In my view, the illustrations exactly mirror the style of writing – a little haphazard perhaps, as if the scribbles of the illustrator’s pen get as carried away with the story as the long tripping sentences of Roald Dahl. George’s Marvellous Medicine is no exception; the illustrations perfectly documents the events of the story, and pretty effectively too. Never before have I seen a chicken looking quite so surprised!
It also amuses me no end to imagine if George’s Marvellous Medicine was published for the first time in 2013, rather than 1981. I expect in times like these when children aren’t allowed to play conkers without donning a pair of safety goggles or signing a disclaimer or something, a newly-written book such as this would be filled with legal arse-coverings and health and safety warnings urging children not to try this at home, and under no circumstances to tamper with medication. Some ridiculous suit-cocooned bore would probably refuse to stock it in bookshops for fear of being sued by a flustered mother who accidentally consumed part of a powder puff, or a hysterical housewife whose son ingested a bit of Vaseline. What a silly age we live in, it’s notions like this that make me turn to authors like Roald Dahl time and again for a bit of good, old-fashioned, harmless, childish fun.