Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—with its sweet yet vaguely sinister universe and tasty, titillating language—has sparked imagination and longing for the last half-century.
While the movies did their best to color in the contours of the book’s world, our inner children will forever mourn the fact that we will never be able to personally prove to Willy Wonka how fit a successor we would be, how resistant to the temptation of chocolate rivers, gum that tastes like food and (possibly) televised teleportation.
What paeans would the Oompa Loompas have sung in our honor?
Actually, there’s a way to find out. The magical minds at technology-minded children’s book publisher Wonderbly, who in 2015 gave us the runaway hit The Little Girl (or Boy) Who Lost Her (or His) Name, partnered with the Roald Dahl Literary Estate to produce My Golden Ticket, a personalized trip back to the Factory.
This time, there’ll be a sixth kid: You. (Or, well, your child.)
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory regularly tops polls of favorite books around the world … Wonka’s factory epitomizes the richness of children’s imagination,” Wonderbly CEO and co-founder Asi Sharabi tells AdFreak. “Our ambition was to create a truly incredible reading experience that takes any child on a once-in-a-lifetime trip around Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. We’ve injected the magic of Roald Dahl, resulting in an ingeniously personalized adventure bursting with different textures, flavors and extraordinary experiences.”
This isn’t just a matter of popping a kid’s name into convenient places. The beautifully illustrated literary production is a whole new adventure in a universe that’s bigger than the contents of the books or films. (Dahl notably planned on writing a third book, but never completed it.)
“Much of the world in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had been largely unexplored,” like the rock candy mine and the toffee apple orchard, only fleetingly mentioned in the original text, says Sharabi. “Our approach was to take these elements and develop them so everyone who read the originals could enjoy both.”
Here’s a glimpse of the rock candy mine:
“Some room and inventions alluded to in the book have been visualized, such as the Juicing Room that Violet Beauregarde is rolled to. Meanwhile, other entirely new ones have been introduced, such as the Vitaministry or the Sound Hatchery.”
Below, check out a map of the complete universe.
“The rooms you visit are dictated by the number of letters in your name,” Sharabi says. “In every room there’s 26 possible outcomes, one for each letter. Plus in your Family Tree, your surname adds to the mix. There’s an Oompa Loompa song for every name in the world. So there are endless possibilities, and no two adventures will be the same.”
Of course, kids get their own golden ticket—the book itself.
The book went live last Thursday, just ahead of Roald Dahl Day this Wednesday.
Ruminating on this propitious release, managing director Luke Kelly of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate tells AdFreak that the unofficial holiday recognizes “Roald’s amazing child heroes—adventurous James, brave Sophie, maverick inventor George, anarchic Matilda, intrepid Billy and good-hearted Charlie. The wonderful thing about My Golden Ticket is that it’s the reader who becomes the young hero of their very own Roald Dahl adventure as they journey through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.”
What’s more, Kelly’s got a golden ticket of his own: He happens to be Dahl’s grandson.
“I’m constantly reminded of the power of my grandfather’s stories and how they have such strength that they can be reworked and reimagined and yet, vitally, stay true to themselves,” Kelly says. “We are always seeking innovation in our publishing—and other activity—and this partnership with Wonderbly is an excellent articulation of that ambition.”
“Just like our previous books, our creative technology utilizes variable data assets to custom build a magical adventure,” Sharabi adds. “However, this is by far the most ambitious book that we have ever published and incorporates everything that we have learnt on personalization systems in the past three years.”
Here’s a lovely double-pager on the chocolate room:
As an added benefit, children get their own chocolate treat, just as unique as the adventure they’ll be sharing with the Buckets, Willy Wonka, the Oompa Loompas, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee.
“Each child gets a unique experience of the Chocolate Factory depending on the letters of their name. And all those experiences get mixed together to make their own unique Wonka bar,” Sharabi reveals. “This super-personalized candy bar is ingeniously generated for every child—right down to the color, shape and even its flavor.”
Though it was published in 1964, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory still has a lot to tell us about ourselves, Kelly says.
“It’s a remarkably prescient story, with warnings about childhood obesity, consumerism gone mad and even the perils of too much screen time,” he notes. “At the Roald Dahl Literary Estate, we have three key values—to be inventive, to be mischievous and to do good. When it comes to invention and mischief, there can be few more powerful role models than Willy Wonka. As to doing good, well … I think we look more to the likes of Grandpa Joe and Charlie himself as the embodiment of that quality.”
The Golden Ticket is now available on Wonderbly’s website. You can get a copy in hardcover or soft, and expect a book length of between 36 and 40 pages. Other custom options include the ability to add a dedication, or add a friend to your journey—the same way the kids all had a guardian with them in the original stories.
We ran a test for a hardcover version, with a dedication and a friend, and arrived at the cost of 44.99€ (about $54). To whet your appetite, preview your unique work of art instantly.
It’s a bit incredible that something algorithmically created can feel so lovingly personal. Dahl himself would have loved it here.