“I’m going shopping in the village,” George’s mother said to George on Saturday morning.
A lot of Dahl’s books are about nasty grown-ups getting their comeuppance, usually at the hands of the child, but George’s Marvellous Medicine takes this idea even further.
George’s grandma is horrible. She sits hunched in her chair, barking orders and insults at her eight-year-old grandson all day, every day. But now he’s had enough! When his mum pops out to the shops, George takes the opportunity to create some mischief of his own, using just his imagination and a small bottle of brown medicine…
Despite being one of the shortest of Dahl’s novels, George’s Marvellous Medicine still manages to pack a punch! Playing on the childhood game of ‘magical potion making’ (usually with mud, dirt and sticks, in the garden with an old washing up bowl!) Dahl emphasises the idea that even the smallest person can create magic out of the ordinary and give someone a taste of their own medicine.
This book is very quirky and a very quick read. It does get a little repetitive as George travels through the house and farm, finding new ingredients to add into his medicine pot but that’s the speed of the short book and also half the fun – yummy horse tranquilizers anyone?! Watching the effects of the magic medicine on his grandmother is brilliant piece of visual narration and yet the story from that point onwards is a little disappointing. Whether Dahl didn’t develop it enough or was limited in some way, I don’t know, but the ending feels very rushed and is quite abrupt.
I can see why more isn’t made of this tale though. Despite the disclaimer at the beginning of the book. I don’t think Hollywood would ever want to adapt this story into a film for fear of encouraging children to make potions out of household objects and feeding it to an unloved family member – not exactly health and safety approved! I think the ludicrousness of Dahl’s tale prevents it from being a major issue but I can see why some parents would be wary.
In George’s Marvellous Medicine Dahl’s razor-sharp humour runs throughout, from the puntastic names for the powders, pills and lotions to the tongue-in-cheek dedication at the beginning – This book is for doctors everywhere. It’s a bite-sized characterful tale with all the Dahl hallmarks for a great read.