Today, September 13, is Roald Dahl’s birthday, aka Roald Dahl Day. I had an incredible teacher in 3rd Grade who introduced me to this wonderful man and since then, Dahl has been a constant presence in my life. I’d like to think that every reader – especially those of us who were avid readers as children – has an author (or an entire slew of authors!) who stick around for years and years. I’m so very pleased to say Roald Dahl is one of mine. From the time I was 7 I’ve been enamored with his stories and I hope to one day have a fraction of his imagination.
“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”– Roald Dahl
Esio Trot, orig. published 1989
Mr. Hoppy is in love with Mrs. Silver, but her heart belongs to Alfie, her pet tortoise. Mr. Hoppy is too shy to approach Mrs. Silver, until one day he comes up with a brilliant idea to win her heart. If Mr. Hoppy’s plan works, Mrs. Silver will certainly fall in love with him. But it’s going to take one hundred and forty tortoises, an ancient spell, and a little bit of magic.
Esio Trot is more a novella than anything – my copy is only 62 pages and that’s including full-page illustrations. I’m a bit ashamed to admit this, but this reading was my first. Naturally I had heard of the story, but apart from seeing it at work, I literally knew nothing about it. Imagine my surprise when I found out it’s a love story!
Mr. Hoppy lives above Mrs. Silver and harbors a secret. He’s terribly in love with her, but Mrs. Silver loves another: her pet tortoise Alfie. Every day Mrs. Silver and Mr. Hoppy chat and he can’t help but feel a bit of jealousy at the affection Mrs. Silver has for Alfie. One day Mrs. Silver confides in Mr. Hoppy that, as much as she adores Alfie, he hasn’t grown at all in the 11 years she’s owned him and she’s rather like it if he weren’t so small. Mr. Hoppy decides then and there to come up with a plan to win Mrs. Silver’s heart.
I’ve read reviews for this story that claim the relationship is based on lies and deception. While I think that’s taking it a bit too far, I can see it. Mr. Hoppy certainly launches a large covert operation and, in the end, he does win her over, all the while the truth remains hidden. In the end Dahl does address this and I was pleased with the outcome.
Esio Trot was a fun little story – and I feel like a total dolt for not realizing sooner that Esio Trot spells tortoise backwards. If you haven’t yet read this one and have fifteen minutes to spare, definitely find a copy. It’s a little more grounded in reality than some of Dahl’s other, more famous works, but it’s just as enjoyable.
Also! It was recently announced that there will be a film adaptation! I’m not quite sure how a 62-page story will be turned into a full-length movie, but there you go.