Book review: Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

Esio Trot? A strange title for a book you might think, but the answer to the riddle lies in the inventive spirit of its famous creator.

Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl, one of the most enduringly popular children’s authors of all time, penned this magical little story about a tortoise (anagram buffs will already have solved the name puzzle!) in the year before he died in 1990.

Twenty-four years later, the adorable tale of a reptile-inspired romance is coming to our television screens with a one-off 90-minute drama starring Dame Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman scheduled for BBC 1 on New Year’s Day.

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And to celebrate this much-anticipated production – adapted by Love Actually director Richard Curtis and set to be one of the highlights of the BBC’s Christmas line-up – two gorgeous Esio Trot books have hit the shelves.

Both are aimed at a young audience and are a wonderful introduction to the amazing world of Dahl, the ‘whizzpopping’ wizard of words who liked nothing better than inventing his own, from jumpsquiffling and strawbunkles to gloriumptious and the hilarious hippodumplings.

First off the pile is a beautifully produced paperback from Puffin, priced at £5.99, featuring a brand new Quentin Blake cover and fully illustrated throughout with Blake’s bold, inimitable and instantly recognisable artwork which has become an inseparable part of Dahl’s writing.

Within the pages, we meet Mr Hoppy, a retired and lonely bachelor who harbours a secret passion for his neighbour, the lovely Mrs Silver. Unfortunately she lavishes all her affection on another… Alfie, her pet tortoise. Mr Hoppy yearns to talk to Mrs Silver but, tongue-tied and shy, his attempts always end in disaster. Mrs Silver’s greatest wish is for her tortoise Alfie to grow a little bigger. All seems lost for Mr Hoppy until he has the brightest, most devious of ideas involving a cryptic riddle, some cabbage leaves and no less than 140 tortoises! Will Mr Hoppy’s wildly ingenious plot win the love of his lady?

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments for all the family to enjoy and fascinating facts about illustrator Quentin Blake, and Roald Dahl’s life, work and adventures. Just the book to put a sparkle into the festive season…

And the youngest family members will love getting their hands on pet tortoise Alfie in a delightful Esio Trot Book and Toy Boxset priced at £12.99 from Random House publishers.

This enchanting gift edition includes a small paperback book with full-colour illustrations by Quentin Blake and a cuddly tortoise toy to help bring the story to life. The perfect package for Christmas!