The Queen does a great big whizzpopper

Written by Amna Boheim

I was a bit Last Minute Dot Com to this 26 project. Not to say I hadn’t been thinking about it. I had. A lot. The thing I struggled with most, was that The BFG is one of Roald Dahl’s greatest stories. How could I begin to emulate either the BFG or little Sophie? I spent many a sleepless night thinking about how to write a 100-word ditty which would capture the essence of the BFG.

Then, at 4.23a.m., on Friday 7th May, I had a brainwave. The Queen, I thought. The flipping Queen!! An idea fermented like Frobscottle in my head. And then I had another idea, and then another. Frobscottle! Whizzpoppers! The Queen! Her 90th birthday! Such was my excitement that I woke up my better half to tell him I had my 26 Twits idea.

“You’re a twit for waking me up,” he said. “Go back to sleep.” But I couldn’t sleep. I had to get it down on paper.

Next up, I needed an illustration (or two.) Thankfully, my friend’s son and budding artist, six-year-old Alexander Kivinen came to the rescue with a wonderful portrayal of the BFG. Then my five-year-old daughter, Lara, offered to contribute too. But, there were a few caveats she needed to draw my attention to.

“Mama,” she said. “I can’t draw the Queen. I can only do a girl.”

“That’s fine,” I said.

“But the Queen wears a crown.”


“Not sometimes. She wears a crown. All. The. Time. And I can’t draw crowns.”

“Well, just draw whatever you feel like.”

“And I can’t draw her flying.”

Me, losing the will: “That’s fine too.”

“Can I do a pond?”

“Why do you want to draw a pond?”

“Because I know how to draw a pond. And rocks too.”

“Okay,” I said, teeth now gritted. “Just draw anything. Anything you like.”

So that’s what she did. She drew a girl-queen. Zooming over a pond with a giant purple flower next to it. You never know, the Queen may well have a pond in her ballroom with a giant flower to boot. And, if you read my little piece, you’ll see that at the end, the Queen probably felt like a young girl all over again.


The Cementa-Gum Blandy-Grippers Get the Grown-Ups

Written by Amanda Edmiston, illustrated by Allannah Edmiston
Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


I admit leaning towards organic, home-knitted yoghurt (well, I own the kit if the urge strikes). However, now my nine-year-old, Allannah, and I are entering the sticky world of Violet Beauregarde, it would be an act of parental malevolence not to embrace confectionary. Wouldn’t it? Especially now I’ve found actual chewing-gum meals.


 “…a small rectangular brick with a cloying fragrance. A top-note reminiscent of air-freshener.”


We test a flotilla of flavours and I instruct the poor girl to engage in a mindful chewing-gum analysis in the name of research. Drool-deflecting descriptions commence:


Nice, but weird…chemical death but more-ish.”

“Muuuu-uuuumaaaargh…it doesn’t blow bubbles, I don’t think this one works.”


I hadn’t contemplated having to teach the art of bubble-blowing. Allannah’s face took on a Veruca-esque rigidity, her jaw set, lacking the required elasticity for successful gum-cracking. The arts I’d honed during geography in S2 flooded back. I could still stretch gum like a 13- year-old but the fun wore off more quickly, the constant motion was tedious.


The bubbatrocity began: it gobbosmattered, it tunglebuckafunked; it wasn’t pleasant.


“How much has my sweetie-chomping childhood impacted on the choices I make for my children?” I wondered. I pondered what it would be like being the child of one of Roald Dahl’s characters. Is Charlie Bucket Jr being overindulged by a once deprived dad? Surely not. However, I bet Veruca Salt’s kids don’t get taken to feed squirrels in the park… And what about Violet?

The gobstopper of an idea started rolling and Allannah loved it. The pens were out and she was off raiding her step-dad’s footwear collection for reference. She began to draw.

With my professional illustrator on a roll, I decided to quiz her for posterity and insight into the artist’s life, but observed I should wait ‘til the drawing was finished. So I sat double-checking Dahl’s original works (as opposed to the changes made in the films, which have dislodged things in our memories). She waves a hilarious drawing… “Now for questions”, I adopt my interviewer voice.

“If you had a horrible habit what would it be?”

“I’d flood the house so I could go swimming.”


“Do you actually have any horrible habits?”

“No…please Mum …I don’t want to be embarrassed on the website…”


“What about the writer you worked with, did they have any horrible habits?”

The whole family decides to join in, comparing my horrible habits. As it’s unfair to inflict such atrocities on the world, I try a less controversial tack.


“If you were to invent a new flavour of chewing-gum what would it be?”

“Fizzy lemon-meringue with extra goo.”


“Who influences you as an illustrator?”

“Lauren Child, Quentin Blake, Chris Riddle.”


“What’s the last book you read?”

“Sophie’s World”, “Matilda’, “Artichoke Hearts” and “Ridiculous Rhymes” because it makes my little sister laugh…I’ve got about five other books on the go, they’re lurking under my duvet…do you want me to go and look…there’s a salamander I need to find anyway…”


She’s off. It’s been hugonomically-funtabulous so I decide to continue and add another layer. I phone her head-teacher and start dreaming-up a workshop for a whole class of doodling Dahl fans…

You can find out all about that at their very own expandibandysplendiliscious mini-website:


Loucas and Ross Allannah

Charlie C and Murray 1 IMG_5947


Harry and the Mystery of the Chocolate Palace

Written by Jayne Workman

Harry’s just learnt how to do mind maps at school. And loves them. So that’s how we started our journey to India with Prince Pondicherry.

Prince who?

Well you might ask. Prince Pondicherry is the smallest of confections, just 36 lines in chapter three of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. At least in our edition. So, you could be forgiven for not knowing this colourful but scantily featured player from the famous story. His is the ultimate cameo.

Introduced by Grandma Josephine in promising terms: “Tell Charlie about that crazy Indian prince,” she says to Grandpa Joe, he makes quite the entrance. “Completely dotty!” follows Grandpa George. “But very rich,” adds Grandma Georgina. After a fanfare like this, we were with Charlie. We had to know more.

The Prince writes to Willy Wonka asking for “a colossal palace entirely out of chocolate.” In the book, this is just another fabulous Wonka anecdote from the bedridden grandparents to thrill their grandson, Charlie. It’s related alongside tales of marshmallows that taste of violets, rich caramels that change colour every ten seconds and “spotty blue birds’ eggs that you suck until you have nothing but a tiny pink sugary bird sitting on the tip of your tongue.” When it comes to crazy creations, the Prince’s chocolate palace is definitely up there.

But why choose him for our story?

I like to think it wasn’t me steering the ship. It’s a coincidence that his character gave us the opportunity to explore two of my favourite places in the world – France and India. On reflection, though, I think  that could be unkind. Since leaving England for New Zealand five years ago, Europe has taken on the romance, for a 10-year-old boy, of any faraway place steeped in culture and history, with real live football matches to add to their appeal. And India? Well, I do mention my travels occasionally…

Once decided, we were back to the mind map, every bubbled idea an excuse for screen-based research for my junior artist. Our mapping led us across the continents to Pondicherry on the south-east coast of India. We soon discovered its French colonial history and independence just a decade before Dahl’s book was published.

But what could bring Wonka and Pondicherry together?  There was Wonka’s fame and the Prince’s letter, we figured. And, well, chocolate, obviously. But there had to be more to it. We imagined Wonka flying to India on his own monogrammed jet with gilded Wonka livery. Stepping from the plane onto the sun-softened tarmac of the regal runway, we saw him through the Prince’s eyes, a vision in purple through the tropical heat haze.

Still why? ’‘Searching up’’ “What grows in Pondicherry?” Harry quickly discovered it wasn’t cocoa beans but sugarcane that flourished in the plains of surrounding Tamil Nadu. “Wait…” he said, “Willy Wonka buys his sugar from the Prince!” And, with that, we had our link.

But still one question remained. Why would headstrong Willy Wonka concede to the folly of a life-size chocolate palace, a fabulous creation doomed to melt, a project destined to fail? This was a man who was famously nobody’s fool. To answer that, we brought Wonka and the Prince face-to-face in canopied Pondicherry splendour, Harry envisioning the Prince in wondrous khaki and lavish crown, Wonka in his trademark jewel-coloured velvet. He seats them atop sumptuously-filled cushions to start their chocolatey negotiations…