One of my favourite love stories comes from Roald Dahl

October 16, 2014

Dear Max

I’ve started reading you some Roald Dahl books at bedtime which is a score because:

a) You seem to be enjoying them
b) It’s a chance for me to reread all my favourites (like The Enormous Crocodile, The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine).

We’re still reading your picture books in between the Dahls, so mixing up the younger stuff with the older stuff. The other night, I started reading you Esio Trot, which is a lesser-known of the Dahl titles, but one of the most magical, and as it turns out, one of the most awesome love stories I’ve ever read.

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The story is about Mr Hoppy, who has secretly been in love with Mrs Silver, who lives downstairs from him. Mr Hoppy, who has been too shy to tell Mrs Silver how he feels, sees an opportunity to win her heart when she tells him from her balcony that she wants her pet tortoise Alfie to grow bigger.

Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver that he has a way to make tortoises grow, and that she must whisper the words below in Alfie’s ear three times a day.

Mr Hoppy tells Mrs Silver that he – in fact – does know of a way to make a tortoise grow bigger. He writes the following words on a slip of paper, and lowers it down to Mrs Silver:

ESIO TROT, ESIO TROT,
TEG REGGIB REGGIB!
EMOC NO, ESIO TROT,
WORG PU, FFUP PU, TOOHS PU!
GNIRPS PU, WOLB PU, LLEWS PU!
EGROG! ELZZUG! FFUTS! PLUG!
TUP NO TAF, ESIO TROT, TUP NO TAF!
TEG NO, TEG NO, ELBBOG DOOF!

The words, in reverse, are: Tortoise, tortoise, get bigger bigger! Come on, tortoise, grow up, puff up, shoot up! Gorge! Guzzle! Stuff! Gulp! Put on fat, tortoise, put on fat! Get on, get on, gobble food!

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Mr Hoppy then buys more than 100 tortoises of different sizes, and makes a special tool to help him drop off and pick up tortoises from Mrs Silver’s balcony. He starts with Alfie, and exchanges him with a slightly bigger tortoise. Every few days, for two months, he carefully and measuredly exchanges the tortoises with slightly bigger ones, so that Mrs Silver thinks that “Alfie” is growing.

Mr Hoppy invites himself over to look at big “Alfie”, ecstatic about being close to the woman of his dreams. They see that “Alfie” can’t fit through the door as he’s doubled in size, so Mr Hoppy instructs Mrs Silver to say a magic spell to make “Alfie” smaller. He makes his last tortoise switch, Mrs Silver is delighted, and Mr Hoppy asks her to marry him. She also says that she thought he would never get around to asking.

Mr Hoppy secretly returns all the tortoises to the pet shops, and he marries Mrs Silver. The real Alfie gets bought by a girl called Roberta.

Aside from my opinion that this is a wonderful love story, with a hard-working protagonist, there are some lessons here (well, for me anyway):

– Love takes effort, but so much grows in the process (other than pet tortoises)

– Nothing ventured, nothing achieved

– Make friends with your cool neighbours

– Sometimes, it helps to believe in “magic”, or something intangible

– It makes us feel good when people do kind things for us (PS: I don’t advocate tricking someone into something, but hey, it’s Roald Dahl, and it works well here)

To more reading and lessons,

xMom

 

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3 Comments

  • Cindy

    I’ve never actually heard of this one before – it sounds like an awesome read.

    October 16, 2014 at 10:18 am Reply
  • Heather

    I also loved Roald Dahl when I was a child. Can’t wait to read them to Nicky too.

    October 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm Reply
  • Mousumi Lahiri

    i loved this book….it is too good

    May 23, 2016 at 11:07 am Reply
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