Close your eyes. Make a wish.
A Hungry Reader special presentation
Here is Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator.
How d’you do? And how d’you do? And how d’you do again?
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator was a short and pleasant book, exactly the kind you’d like to have in your classroom. From cover to cover it was filled with whimsy and magic, high fantasy and stinging satire. Yet every day, Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator went to sleep on its bookshelf with a horrible empty feeling inside.
What CATGGE hungered for, most of all, was attention. And what made its hunger for attention so pressing was that it lived in the shadow of a book about a chocolate factory. An enormous book about a chocolate factory.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of children would pick this book up and devour it hungrily, and rightly so in that it was such a classic. It made Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator feel terribly lonely to see this other book so enjoyed while it lingered on the shelf, forgotten.
There were many other forgotten books on the Roald Dahl shelf; they were like family to Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Each of them had their own story to tell, and every night Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator would listen intently to their wisdom.
The book that Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator felt the closest to was Switch Bitch, an old hardcover short story collection. Switch Bitch too was very fond of Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator– almost like a grandfather. It even mentioned Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator by name on its inside cover flap.
All the lesser lights on the bookshelf were close to each other and fond friends, but each of them saw the more famous books being chosen day after day, and admired them greatly; they never tired of telling the other books’ stories, either.
Switch Bitch: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the most famous of all of the books in our collection. Roald Dahl was already a successful writer, but it was that book that made him world famous and one of the most beloved authors for children of all time. In fact, if it weren’t for that book, you wouldn’t even be here– you’re actually the sequel!
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator: What?! Grandpa, you’re kidding me! How could it be that there was a sequel all this time and no one knew about it? You must be mistaken, it must be some other Charlie in that story.
Switch Bitch: It certainly is fantastic, isn’t it? Today’s books get up to seven sequels, each more famous than the last, but somehow Charlie And The Chocolate Factory escaped sequelization. And you are most definitely the sequel, boy– it’s Charlie Bucket himself, not to mention the famous Willy Wonka, who star in both books. As a matter of fact, you begin at the exact moment where Charlie And The Chocolate Factory leaves off!
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator: Um… Return To Oz?
Switch Bitch: Good try, Charlie, but no. It seems that Charlie And The Chocolate Factory may be succumbing to the same fate as The Wizard Of Oz– the general public is forgetting that it was a book first. Between the many movie retellings, homages, and parodies, it can be easy to forget that such a popular story isn’t just a modern fairy tale passed through oral tradition.
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator: But that’s terrible… that people would forget the story that gave them all those things they love in the first place. That’s like ignoring that Georges Seurat painting just because there’s a musical based on it! Whether they’re translatable between media or not, works of art like us shouldn’t be replaced by their recreations…
. . .
Little did the two books know about the wonderful announcement that was being spread through the library and everywhere else at that very moment. Signs were posted on all the bookcases, video racks, and internet message boards, all by unseen hands. When the library re-opened the next day, this was the message that greeted all eyes:
To all and sundry in a world influenced by Roald Dahl, I, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, greet you! We’ve known each other a good long time now, but I feel it’s really time we got to know one another better, and so I have an exciting announcement to make: for the first time ever, I will be welcoming other books into my own story! I have released into the mediasphere five golden tickets of my own design, patterned after the very ones that appear in my story. These golden tickets may take the form of a video rental card, a library card, even a bookmark, for this contest is open to all media that were based on my image! When the five tickets have been found, the second phase will begin; the five lucky winners will be invited to participate in my story themselves! So watch carefully for a Golden Ticket of your very own and be ready for the instructions to follow! Yours Sincerely, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator: What DOES happen in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, anyway? There’s a chapter in me about the Chocolate Factory itself, but I’m not sure what the plot of the book is…
Switch Bitch: Oh, it’s a wonderful little fable; it’s all about a magnificent candy maker, Willy Wonka, who has a miraculous factory that he keeps locked up for fear of spies. One day, though, just like the book itself is doing now, Mr. Wonka sends out five golden tickets to invite five kids to visit his factory for the first time! But all the kids are little weirdos with gross personal problems except for one– Charlie Bucket, the one who stars in your story too. And it’s a good thing he’s the normal one, too, because the other ones get picked off, one by one, thanks to their own bad habits!
. . .
The first Golden Ticket was found the very next day.
Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory: Well, there was never any doubt about my getting one of these, was there? Let’s face it, I’m the face of chocolate factories everywhere, and when you face me you get a faceful. So stand back all you little Runts and Nerds– I’m going to be the Charlie of this story, and you all ain’t nothing but blueberries hooked up to a visible air pump!
. . .
The next day, two more were found, right next to each other in the late night lineup:
Family Guy, “Wasted Talent”: Whoa, am I really a winner? Even though the Willy Wonka parody is only the first two acts of the episode? Wow, I guess attention to detail really does pay off! Like that time that I was traveling across the country with Fred Savage in order to win the world Nintendo championships!
Futurama, “Fry And The Slurm Factory”: You know something, I have no quarrel with anyone else in this race, but I’m SO taking Family Guy down. Seriously, the nerve of Seth MacFarlane and his little old-equals-LOL operation, trying to step on our toes with ANOTHER Willy Wonka parody. We’ll show you who’s the joke– and who’s the joke that is actually relevant to the situation!
Family Guy, “Wasted Talent”: Sssst… aaaaghhh!
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator: I don’t think this rivalry is all that warranted, it’s not like they even really tread over the same ground with their jokes. Family Guy is more about being edgy and mildly offensive, while Futurama has plot-specific humor while always holding true to the science fiction theme. There’s room for a Willy Wonka spoof with both of them, isn’t there? Besides, that stuck-up movie deserves a few digs, loving tributes though they might be, don’t you think?
. . .
Saturday and Sunday passed with no news; the library was closed all weekend. When Monday came, it was revealed that the fourth and second-to-last golden ticket had been awarded.
Tim Burton’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005): Good morning, starshine! I just can’t tell you how doggoned pleased I am to be involved in this fabulous affair! Now I know there are certain very naughty movies that don’t put enough effort into pleasing the authors who wrote the books on which they were based, but I sure as gosh-darn-all-hecksie-shooties aren’t one of them! I’m so excited to finally meet Mr. Dahl’s real creation and show him how much I really do love him! Really REALLY.
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator: What chance? How? Two of the tickets have already gone to feature films, and the other two to spoofs of one of them. I don’t think books are welcome in this competition. And if a book did get a nod, it’d probably be a re-release of the original book, or a retelling based on the events of that new movie, or shoot, a sticker book. A Sound Story book. I’m just not close enough to the source material, Grandpa. I’m not part of the canon.
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator began to tremble as it opened itself to the front cover to get a look at the bookmark.