I am very fond of reading books about children’s bitter experiences. Perhaps I believe in American psychologist, Erik Fromm’s belief that “ to understand children, we, adults, try to think like a child again.”Unfortunately, not all adults are aware of this fact. That’s why the main purpose of literature is to educate people about life, basically about children life.
I have read some books about children. I can hardly ever forget Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt ( 5 stars ), The Butcher’s Boy by Patrick McCabe ( 3 stars ), Torey Hayden’s books such as The Innocent Child and its sequel The Tiger’s Child ( I was so generous to fault to give both 5 stars at that time when I was not yet critical on Good Reads. ) I also cried over the classical books such as Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Even Beloved by Toni Morrison, one of my favorite fictional writers , punched my chest although the character is a young teen-ager gives eerie feelings. For local books, one is the Connecting the Dots by Gojo Cruz ( 5 stars ) which author swept me off my feet. ( laughs ) Such books are awash in the same theme: human cruelty in children, perhaps, out of ignorance.
This book of Road Dahl is one of the books above. This may be intended to make readers laugh. Of course, I did. However, the real highlight of this , even Dahl admitted it at the end of the story, is his miserable experiences as a student in the hands of his school head masters, teachers, and matrons. ( or you’d rather I put it bluntly , under the rotten educational system in Britain at that time ) Dahl narrated how he was such a poor innocent child . He was an archetype of educational upbringing. He had been beaten many times. So had his classmates. He had been humiliated and treated unfairly. So had his classmates. Admittedly, I abandoned myself to his said stories. If I had been his classmate at that time, I would have been so defiant that I could have been booted out. ( laughs ) So , the title of this book fits all the stories- Boys: Tales of Childhood.
I always want to be an active advocate for children’s rights, particularly for their education. Like Dahl, I was also a victim of wrong education from teachers who may have been ignorant of child psychology. As a teacher now , I believe in teaching students based on their individualism.
The good thing about this is that Road Dahl was still able to make us laugh despite those harboring ill-feelings. He was like a friend I have just made, sharing his ala Thomas-Sawyer stories. The atmosphere he built was so amiable that I felt sympathy for him. In addition, reading it was so easy unlike the other autobiographies or novels about children which require higher level of thinking. He narrated his stories age by age and every sentence is well-written. Since it is a children book, I hope young readers take precious lessons from it. And I do not think that it should be banned from the hands of young readers just like of what happened to his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which received negative criticism. Duty on their distorted realities! ^^
Road Dahl said in his preface that an autobiography for him is full of all sorts of boring details. If I take him for his words, what he meant to say I believe is like what the famous American writer, William Arthur Ward, said:
“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”
Rating: 4/ 5 stars