Friday

Sep. 13, 2002

There is No Knowing What We Shall See

by Roald Dahl

FRIDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2002
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: "'There Is No Knowing What We Shall See!,'" by Roald Dahl from James and the Giant Peach (Penguin).

There is No Knowing What We Shall See!

'There is no knowing what we shall see!' cried the
          Centipede.

'We may see a Creature with forty-nine heads
Who lives in the desolate snow,
And whenever he catches a cold (which he dreads)
He has forty-nine noses to blow.

'We may see the venomous Pink-Spotted Scrunch
Who can chew up a man with one bite.
It likes to eat five of them roasted for lunch
And eighteen for its supper at night.

'We may see a Dragon, and nobody knows
That we won't see a Unicorn there.
We may see a terrible Monster with toes
Growing out of the tufts of his hair.

'We may see the sweet little Biddy-Bright Hen
So playful, so kind and well-bred;
And such beautiful eggs! You just boil them and then
They explode and they blow off your head.

'A Gnu and a Gnocerous surely you'll see
And that gnormous and gnorrible Gnat
Whose sting when it stings you goes in at the knee
And comes out through the top of your hat.

'We may even get lost and be frozen by frost.
We may die in an earthquake or tremor.
Or nastier still, we may even be tossed
On the horns of a furious Dilemma.

'But who cares! Let us go from this horrible hill!
Let us roll! Let us bowl! Let us plunge!
Let's go rolling and bowling and spinning until
We're away from old Spiker and Sponge!'


It's the birthday of Judith Martin, known more widely as "Miss Manners," born in Washington, DC (1938).

It's the birthday of composer Arnold Schoenberg, born in Vienna, Austria (1874). He created a new method of composition called "atonality," based on a series of twelve tones.

It's the birthday of the man who founded the Hershey Chocolate Corporation, Milton Snavely Hershey, born near Hockersville, Pennsylvania (1857).

It's the birthday of Walter Reed, born in Belroi, Virginia (1851). He led the discovery that yellow fever is transmitted through mosquito bites.

It's the birthday of Sherwood Anderson, born in Camden, Ohio (1876). He wrote the novel Winesburg, Ohio, which is a collection of shorter stories told by a newspaper reporter-narrator. With the publication of the novel Winesburg, Ohio, he introduced a new form and subject matter to the American short story, influencing those that came after him, like William Faulkner and Earnest Hemingway.

It's the birthday of author Roald Dahl, born in Llandaff, Wales (1916). He is the author of numerous novels for children, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda. His father died early and his Norwegian mother raised him in England. She did not let him forget his Norwegian heritage, frequently telling him Norse myths and speaking to him in Norwegian. At school he began a tradition of writing his mother a letter once every week, which he continued to do until she died 32 years later. Later on, when his own children were in school, he wrote letters to them twice a week. He kept a secret diary from the age of 8. He said, "to make sure that none of my sisters got hold of it and read it, I used to put it in a waterproof tin box tied to a branch at the very top of an enormous conker tree in our garden. I knew they couldn't climb up there. Then every day I would go up myself and get it out and sit in the tree and make the entries for the day." At a party he met the actress Patricia Neal, and they got married. They had five children, and he began writing for children after he had practice telling his own kids bedtime stories every night. "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."


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