THE GIRAFFE AND THE PELLY AND ME by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: $11.95; 32 pp.; ages 6 up). The imaginative and funny Roald Dahl is back with another preposterous yarn, a modern fantasy filled with his typically eccentric characters.
A young boy narrates this long, read-aloud tale, introducing us to the Ladderless Window-Cleaning Company that is staffed by his new friends, Giraffe, Pelican and Monkey. When they're hired to clean the Duke of Hampshire's 677 windows, "all of them filthy," some curious things take place.
As in Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach," there's a bit of magic and fabulous flight. Secret wishes are granted because of good deeds and heartfelt friendship. Since the boy dreams of owning a sweet shop, a flood of treats arrive from every corner of the world, including the famous Willie Wonka factory from another Dahl tale, with candies to help kids spit in seven different colors and turn teeth green for a month. The tongue-twister names--Nishnobblers, Gumglotters and Glumptious Globgobblers--are just part of the fun.
Like Giraffe, the book is tall and thin, its cover glossy. Every page is bright with Quentin Blake's droll pictures, though if this is given to early readers, they will find the type too small and businesslike. But it's a great adventure to listen to, one they'll want to hear over and over. For, as the Monkey sings, "Come and see us again. . . . No book ever ends when it's full of your friends. . . ."