How to while away a summer afternoon with kids: A marvellous, mischievous audiobook

Our local library has been a great source of amusement this summer. As well as offering a happy space to read books and do crafts, we’ve discovered that the library is an amazing source of audiobooks (which we borrow for free!). I’ve come to take this service for granted, but sometimes I am reminded how lucky we are in our fair city (Ottawa) to have wonderful public libraries.

My daughter is really into audiobooks right now. She is a pre reader, just on the verge of becoming an avid reader. But until that glorious day arrives, audiobooks give her the opportunity to get lost in a book. It’s a great way for her to unwind at home after a busy day in the pool or summer camp (while I put my feet up and relax!). We also listen to audiobooks in the car and going to sleep at night.

George’s Marvellous Medicine (Puffin Audiobook) by Roald Dahl is the current favourite at our house, and it is read by the wonderful British actor Richard E. Grant.

My daughter shrieks with delight when she hears this delicious story about a boy and his “grizzly old grunion of a Grandma.”

Not for the faint of heart is this book. After all, George is out to play a mean trick on his Grandmother (by replacing her medicine with a mixture of wonderfully terrible ingredients!). In fact, Wikipedia actually posts this warning on their entry for the book:

“Do not try to make George’s marvellous Medicine yourself. It could be dangerous.”

So with that caveat, I give you this excerpt from George’s Marvellous Medicine read by Richard E. Grant:

This passage is our favourite–and it illustrates Dahl’s uncanny ability to capture the spirit of childhood (slimy squigglers! nasty smells! pops and explosions!):

“Here we go, then!” cried George, jumping up from the table. “A magic medicine it shall be!”

“So give me a bug and a jumping flea,
Give me two snails and lizards three,
And a slimy squiggler from the sea,
And the poisonous sting of a bumblebee,
And the juice from the fruit of the ju-jube tree, And the powdered bone of a wombat’s knee. And one hundred other things as well

Each with a rather nasty smell.
I’ll stir them up, I’ll boil them long,
A mixture tough, a mixture strong. And then, heigh-ho, and down it goes, A nice big spoonful (hold your nose) Just gulp it down and have no fear. ‘How do you like it, Granny dear?’ Will she go pop? Will she explode? Will she go flying down the road?
Will she go poof in a puff of smoke? Start fizzing like a can of Coke?
Who knows? Not I. Let’s wait and see. (I’m glad it’s neither you nor me.)
Oh Grandma, if you only knew,
What I have got in store for you!” 


Scholastic books has an educational guide to the book, including discussion points for your child and an alternate (but safe) recipe for your child to make his/her own marvellous medicine!

You can purchase this and other Penguin audiobooks for download here.

And don’t forget to check out your local library! For anyone in the Ottawa area, check out the great Ottawa Public Library website where you can browse and reserve books from their entire collection.

I will be posting more about our favourite children’s audiobooks, and here is a great list from Childtasticbooks.

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