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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Book review by
Stephany Aulenback, Common Sense Media
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book Poster Image
Classic morality tale is wildly entertaining.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 63 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The book is all about bad behavior, and it is exhibited--and punished--at every turn. The phrase "What goes around comes around" rings true in this story as many of the characters are punished or rewarded according to their personality and capacity for obedience. Overall, this book encourages good behavior as well as individuality.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Charlie is a lovely, well-behaved child that is richly rewarded for his patience and obedience in the end. He possesses an inner strength that many of the other characters lack, which allows him to outlast the other contestants and reap the benefits of a well-rounded attitude. Born and raised in poverty, Charlie's victory establishes him as the underdog that many readers find themselves rooting for from the start.

Violence & Scariness

Amidst the obsession with Mr. Wonka's golden ticket contest, a gangster robs a bank and uses the stolen money to buy a large amount of candy bars. People all around begin to panic and misbehave just to get their hands on the winning ticket.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a classic children's book about five kids who win a chance to tour Willy Wonka's mysterious candy-making operation. It's a vividly told wild ride with amusing, cartoon-like sketches that will keep kids excited and laughing. Various forms of bad behavior are demonstrated -- but the punishments perfectly fit the crimes. The main character also lives a life of poverty that's portrayed as bleak and depressing, although the love between him and his family makes their day-to-day struggles more bearable. The book was adapted for a film titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971, and made into a movie titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp, in 2005. That same year, it was released as an audiobook read by Monty Python member Eric Idle, which is loads of fun.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written byasad chishti August 2, 2010
Parent of a 2 year old Written byMorniel July 10, 2010

Horror in the guise of "cute"

Roald Dahl's stories are among the darkest, most terrifying examples of the horror genre in existence. While they "reward" a so-called "goo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 3, 2011
I love it and got me hungry!
Teen, 15 years old Written byinduja July 26, 2010

d best book for all

its d best book u"ll find in a store or a library that is appropriate for ur kids of age 10+.

What's the story?

Poor Charlie Bucket is practically starving to death, but his luck changes for the better when he wins a lifetime supply of candy -- and a chance to visit Willy Wonka's fabulous, top-secret chocolate factory. This charming, irreverent tale, one of Roald Dahl's best, has captivated children for more decades. Five lucky people who find a Golden Ticket wrapped in one of Willy Wonka's wonderful candy bars win a visit to his mysterious chocolate factory. Charlie Bucket is too poor to buy more than one candy bar a year, so when he wins a ticket, his whole family celebrates. The four other lucky children are not as nice as Charlie, and they're punished for their bad behavior. Greedy Augustus Gloop falls into the chocolate river he's trying to drink from and gets sucked up a pipe. Chewing-gum addict Violet Beauregarde grabs a stick of gum that blows her up into a giant blueberry. Spoiled Veruca Salt is deemed a "bad nut" by Wonka's trained squirrels and thrown in the garbage. And Mike Teavee demands to be "sent by television" and gets shrunk in the process. But there's a wonderful surprise waiting for Charlie at the end of the tour.

Is it any good?

Rarely, if ever, has a morality tale been dressed up in such an entertaining story. Roald Dahl clearly has a point to make here, but never does the reader feel he is preaching; he's just reveling in giving spoiled kids their most perfectly just comeuppance. Dahl has peopled these pages with some highly memorable bad children, and readers everywhere love to laugh with glee at their crazy behavior -- and its consequences.

In the best fairy tale tradition, Dahl doesn't hide the fact that the world can be a grim and unfair place. Charlie's depressing life of poverty at the beginning of the novel reflects this bleak view. But, also in the best fairy tale tradition, Dahl appeals to the strong sense of natural justice in children, and invites them to revel in a marvelously imagined world where people, both good and bad, get exactly what they deserve. It's also a place where they make "eatable marshmallow pillows," "hot ice cream for cold days," "fizzy lifting drinks" that make you float, and "rainbow drops" that let you "spit in six different colours." And, in the end, it's just the place for Charlie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various children who win the right to tour the chocolate factory and how their flaws ultimately seal their fates.

  • What are your first impressions of Willy Wonka? Do you change your opinion about him over the course of the book?

  • Even though Charlie wasn't completely innocent, why was he chosen to run the factory in the end?

  • If you were given the opportunity to see your favorite candy maker's factory headquarters, how would you behave?

  • Who would you take with you as your special guest?

Book details

For kids who love humor and classics

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