So my husband just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the boys. I loved that book as a child, and had forgotten just how fun it is until I sat here every night listening to my boys living the adventure for the first time themselves. I love how books do that.
As we read, the boys were full of theories– if Charlie didn’t get a golden ticket, maybe he would break into the factory. They knew he had to get in somehow, after all. Otherwise why would it be called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? You have to love the impeccable logic of an eight-year-old. They laughed out loud at the description of Uncle Joe as looking like a skeleton, and they laughed so hard one of them fell off the couch when Willy Wonka said that nobody would want to eat “chocolate-covered Augustus-flavored Gloop!” And they were a little bit worried that Charlie was going to get into trouble like the rest of the naughty children.
Now that the book is over, my children still have chocolate on the brain, or at least, chocolate factories on the brain. With pens in hand, and vast quantities of printer paper taped together to make giant lumpy drawing surfaces, they are designing their own chocolate factories, which are even weirder, if that’s possible, than the magical factory in Dahl’s book.
This morning, in much the same tone that I use when I tell things like, “I need to clean out the fridge and vacuum the living room today,” Bubs informed me that “I really am hoping I can get the main design for my chocolate factory done today, so that tomorrow I can start drawing the room details in.”
Stinky likes to talk when he works, so I know all kinds of things about his chocolate factory, including the fact that its workers are made out of chocolate, it contains a grocery store (“so the workers don’t have to go somewhere else when they need something like whipped cream to make the chocolate”), and one room includes a volcano that erupts ketchup, for reasons that I have yet to comprehend. Wouldn’t it be more fun if it erupted chocolate sauce or something?
Anyway, having observed my children over the last few days, I have realized that they have some very strange beliefs about candy factories, thanks to Dahl’s genius imagination. For example:
–All owners of candy factories must wear top hats. You get extra points if your top hat is made of chocolate.
–Chocolate rivers are an integral and accepted part of the candy-making process (oh, if only!).
–People who work in candy factories cannot be human beings. And also, they will be glad to live in the factory and never leave.
–All chocolate factories include boats.
–And elevators with lots of buttons.
–And a variety of geographical elements made of candy. Or ketchup, as the case may be.
When I was in fourth grade, our class went on a field trip to the Nestle factory in Burlington, Wisconsin. I keep thinking that maybe I should share my knowledge of chocolate factories, particularly their decidedly human employees and lack of fudge mountains. Maybe I should find out if there’s a candy factory somewhere around here, where we could tour so my boys would know what a real candy factory is like.
But then I think, we get to live in our imaginations for such a short time. Why destroy it for them now? The time will come when they will know about automation and sterilization and machines. For now, as Stinky says, “You wouldn’t want to be in the ketchup pit when the volcano explodes!”
I think we can all agree those are words to live by.