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This was one of my most favorite books during my early childhood/teens. It was written by Roald Dahl, who is probably mostly known for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". I must have read this book at least 4-5 times. It consists of 6 short stories, including one about how Roald Dahl began writing, and of course the story about Henry Sugar himself, a fictional character.

Henry Sugar is a grown-up rich kid who has no purpose in life than live off the money he inherited from his family. Until one day he finds this book in a library. It is a journal belonging to a man who, while in Bombay, learned the trick of walking over fire. By reading the techniques described in the journal, Henry learns how, by deep concentration, to see through playing cards. He zips off to the nearest casino and immediately wins a large sum of money. By a sudden change of heart, Henry decides to use his powers only for the sake of good. He then embarks on a many-years-long journey of breaking casino banks and founding orphanages with the money.

A nice, uncomplicated read.

Dedicated "with affection and sympathy to all young people who are going through that long and difficult metamorphosis when they are no longer children and have not yet become adults", Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More contains stories a bit more sophisticated than Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I've found that these are great stories to read aloud to young teens, who sooner or later just might pick up the book themselves. The stories are:

Lucky Break
"How I Became a Writer"

A Piece of Cake
(First Story--1942)

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar
In which a rich man sets out to make himself richer, becomes a yogi, learns to see through things (like cards at the blackjack table), becomes a nicer person, and donates millions to orphanages around the world

The Boy Who Talked with Animals
PETA enthusiasts will love this one

The Hitchhiker
My personal favorite: in which the narrator, out for a drive in his new BMW, stops long enough to pick up a professional fingersmith

The Mildenhall Treasure
A true account of the greatest treasure ever found in the British Isles, a large collection of Roman silver (Which is now owned by the British Museum, and can be viewed at www.britannia.com/tours/bmrbgal/mildenhall.html)

The Swan
"Some people, when they have taken too much and have been driven beyond the point of endurance, simply crumple and give up. There are others, though they are not many, who will for some reason always be unconquerable. You meet them in time of war and also in time of peace. They have an indomitable spirit and nothing, neither pain nor torture nor threat of death, will cause them to give up."

Pick this up sometime; give it to a child, read it to a child, or just enjoy it yourself on a lazy afternoon. You'll be glad you did.


Roald Dahl, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, 1977, Puffin Books. "The Swan" quotation from p. 97.

CST Approved

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