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Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator: 04/17/16

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl is the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Wonka and Charlie take a detour of their fantastic elevator ride to pick up Charlie's grandparents, and their bed. They then zoom into space and have some extraordinary adventures.

Although I'm very familiar with the first book, I never read the second book as a child. My husband remembers reading it as a kid and not liking it. I know, I know, I know, and yet I never listen. I should never pass judgment on a book based solely on someone close to me.

In my review of Chocolate Factory I suggested that Willy Wonka might be a time lord. Perhaps in the first book he wasn't quite yet. Doctor Who had only been on the air for a year. By Great Glass Elevator, the show was in it's ninth series and it's third doctor.

    By the Third Doctor, a few rules had been established for the show.
  • First: the Doctor travels in a TARDIS which when its chameleon circuit is working can take any shape but as they age, the circuit gets stuck.
  • Second: besides traveling through time, the Doctor also travels through space.
  • Third: There are monsters in space who have their eyes set on Earth.
  • Fourth: The Doctor is the self proclaimed protector of Earth.
  • Fifth: The Doctor can regenerate into a new body when grievously injured.
  • Sixth: It's bigger on the inside.
  • Seventh: The Doctor despite his apparent gruffness, likes having companions to adventure with.
  • Eighth: The TARDIS is flown by pushing buttons and moving levers.

Now let's look at the elevator. In the first book, it's shown to be a vehicle that doesn't just go up and down, instead it can go wherever the rider needs it to go. It can even fly (just as the TARDIS can). In this book, it's also capable of flight into space. It's also capable of holding Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, his four grandparents and their giant bed.

If the elevator can travel into space it might as well be a space ship. As aliens can come in all shapes and sizes, so do their ships. A TARDIS (or elevator) should be flexible enough to dock with anything. "My Elevator could link up with a crocodile if it had to. Just leave it to me, my boy!" (p. 18)

So what do they find in space besides an American space station? Knids! "These Vermicious Knids are the terror of the Universe. They travel through space in great swarms, landing in other stars and planets and destroying everything they find." (p. 55)

As we've seen in the relaunched Doctor Who show, the Doctor has earned a reputation among the hostiles of space. Though humanity for the most part sees the Doctor as a savior, others see him as a war criminal or even the monster under the bed. Wonka seems to have a similar reputation outside of Earth where he's only known for sweets and being a bit of a loner. Willy Wonka is compared to a doctor (perhaps the Doctor):

Let me get you a doctor. I know just the man.
For a Knid with a nasty disease.
He's a butcher by trade which is not a bad plan,
And he charges quite reasonable fees.

Ah! Here he is now! Doc, you really are kind
To travel so far into space.
There's your patient, the Knid with the purple behind!
Do you think it's a desperate case?

The entire second adventure with Willy and Charlie is like this. Anyone who has watched enough Doctor Who, will recognize scenes from the old and the new. The book is old enough now to have probably inspired some of today's Doctor Who writers.

Take for instance Wonka's rejuvenation (dare is say, regeneration) of Charlie's grandparents. He gives them medicine to give them back their youth. One has to wonder if "The Girl Who Died" isn't a wee bit of a nod to Wonka's formula (which also has consequences which he doesn't think about until after administering it).

Four stars

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