Author: Roald Dahl | Illustrator: Quentin Blake | Page Count: 96
'She had pale brown teeth and a small puckered-up mouth like a dog's bottom.'
I can barely remember what I did yesterday afternoon, but I can recall easily the first time I read about George Kranky's Marvellous Medicine. I was aged ten. It was a long time ago. Four separate classes in the school I attended (and loved) were gathered together in one room for an important presentation. I never did find out what was so important because soon after arrival I shuffled my way to the back left corner of a sea of cross-legged children on the floor, hid myself within the maelstrom as best I could, opened up the book and started to read. None of the teachers noticed and after a few minutes I forgot they even existed.
It's a short book with a simple plot. George's mother goes to town, leaving the eight-year-old at home with his grandmother. George hates his gran, but being the only one other than her in the house means he's now responsible for administering the old girl's daily dose of medicine. Instead of her regular brown medicine in a boring bottle, George decides to make his own concoction.
The adult part of me was screaming about how irresponsible it all was, especially when he reached the garden shed, but the part of me that still enjoys that kind of freedom was rubbing his hands together wickedly and sniggering way too much.
If you've ever wanted to write for children then there’s no better teacher than Dahl. Marvellous Medicine certainly isn't his best work, but he doesn't waste a single word and once the story really kicks off it doesn't stop, so there's still something to be learned from it.
George's father is a fun character. I'd never really considered his point of view before. Nor that of the chickens. I felt sorry for them. They get a bad enough deal as it is having a tiny brain, not being able to fly and being tasty when cooked.
Young children will have a blast picturing all the weird ingredients, while adults will recognise how significant events change everyone who partakes or witnesses them, even the people that don't take the medicine.
3 spoonfuls of alternative sugar out of 5