Book club book #4: George’s Marvelous Medicine


Book: George’s Marvelous Medicine

Author: Ronald Dahl

Number of Pages: 90

Plot, according to the back of the book:
George is alone in the house with Grandma. The most horrid, grizzly old grunion of a grandma ever. She needs someone stronger than her usual medicine to cure her grouchiness. A special grandma medicine, a remedy for everything. And George knows just what to put into it. Grandma’s in for the surprise of her life-and so is George, when he sees the results of his mixture.

Plot, in my own words:
George is a nine-year-old boy. One day George is left alone with his horrible, creepy, stinky, nasty, wench of a grandmother. Besides staying out of trouble his one responsibility is to feed the old hag her medicine. So George decides to teach her a lesson and put his own little twist on things.

Thoughts, comments, questions, concerns:
I wasn’t planning on reading this for a while, but I sort of couldn’t get into my other books. I needed something short, something made for kids, and something I could read in one sitting. I finished Marvelous Medicine in about 45 minutes.

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I read it all the time. There are only four main characters, because with kids you have to keep it simple. There is Mr. and Mrs. Kranky, George, and the grandma. Now this grandma could give the Dursley’s a run for their money in terms of all out nastiness. I mean this woman is extremely creeeepy. Mr. and Mrs. Kranky go out of town and little George is left alone with his grandmother who immediately sets out to terrorize the kid. At one point she pulls him close and offers to “tell him secrets” and then goes on about all of the “secrets” she could tell him. I mean pure, all out, creepiness. But that is what makes the rest of the book so amazing.

You see, George is fed up with her horrible antics, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. At 11am on the dot he is to give his grandmother her medicine, something she hasn’t forgotten. Basically she is stuck in this chair and hasn’t moved in oh, something like 20 years, so anything George does she wont really know about because the old broad can’t move. So George takes the time to create a special medicine to give to his grandmother, instead of her regular stuff, which George is positive doesn’t do a thing for her. He goes into all different rooms in his house and dumps the contents of all sorts of household items in a big mixing pot. The first room hit is his parent’s bathroom. Some of the items to go into the medicine are: shampoo, shaving cream, face cream, dandruff cure, hairspray, and paraffin wax, among other things. Next is his mother’s nightstand, then on to the laundry room where he adds laundry detergent, floor polish, flea powder for dogs, and canary seed. In his father’s work shed (they live on and run a farm) he added all sorts of animal products and medicine. In the garage he found antifreeze and glossy brown paint to make the medicine brown, so grandma doesn’t get suspicious.
Well George boils all the ingredients together and, after dumping out the old medicine, he filled the bottle back up and served his grandmother her daily tablespoon of medicine. The results weren’t exactly what he was expecting.

(I’m just going to go ahead and tell the rest of the book in the next paragraph. If you don’t want to find out what happens skip to the bottom line.)

Grandma, who is already extremely thin, takes the medicine and pretty soon her insides basically catch on fire. Smoke comes out of her ears, mouth and nose. Once that calms down grandma starts to grow, something she doesn’t consider “a good thing.” Grandma grows and grows and grows and then six pages later her feet are on the living room floor and her head is sticking out the roof. Mr. and Mrs. Kranky come home and while Mrs. Kranky spends the rest of the book freaking out and being, well, cranky, Mr. Kranky tries to figure out the exact recipe to use on all of his farm animals so they can become rich.
Needless to say, they don’t figure it out. But in all of their other attempts they did stumble upon a recipe that would make people shrink. And Mr. Kranky gives it to the grandma. And she disappears. And everyone actually lives happily ever after, accepting the fact that they technically, sort-of killed someone.

Bottom line:
I absolutely love this book. And every time I read it I remember why. It is so darn funny and I love the catchy little poems and how the drawings, as simple as they are, help to set the ugliness of the grandma and the cuteness of George. Dahl is a classic, which automatically makes this an amazing book. The characters are great. Mr. Kranky is insane, Mrs. Kranky lives up to her name, George is a crazy kid who I’m assuming doesn’t have much parental supervision, and Grandma who is one of the nastiest children’s lit characters I’ve ever read. I think the funniest thing is what the medicine actually does. Like I said it made her grow, when in reality she would have dropped dead the second after she tasted the stuff. But I suppose that is just the magic of make believe. Oh how I love children’s books.


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