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…
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