As a kid, I loved the Roald Dahl books. Particularly the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory series. I loved how he could tell a story without talking down to kids - something most children's books today simply don't even try to accomplish. Bad stuff happened to the kids in Wonka's factory but Dahl gave his readers enough credit to be able to handle it and move on without worrying he would, as my elderly friend used to say, "hurt their little mental blocks". As a kid, I so appreciated that.

I saw the 1971 version of Wily Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a kid and loved it. It was such a visual masterpiece and at the time there was nothing else that looked even remotely like it, with the possible exception of The Wizard of Oz. For the rest of my life, whenever I've been flipping through the channels and happen to catch it on television (especially if I come in after they enter the factory) I'm there for the duration - I have to watch the rest. I loved how Gene Wilder chose to play the Wily Wonka role just the tiniest bit sadistic and I absolutely love the song "Pure Imagination" sung in the chocolate room. It's melodically beautiful and feels good to sing and though Wilder never had the strongest or most pleasing voice, as an adult and a musician it occurs to me now how well he performed it: with Fred Astaire-like with perfect phrasing, pitch and delivery. I think of all the musicals I've seen and played, it's still one of my favorite songs from any of them.

When I heard the Tim Burton version was coming out, I couldn't wait. I knew that Burton would exceed the visual masterpiece I remembered and I'm always fascinated to see Johnny Depp's interpretation of anything. I knew it would be completely different than Wilder's, but no less fun. While Wilder played the role creepy, Depp was strangely weird and awkward. And we loved it.

I bought the 1971 version for The Dormouse when she was still very young, thinking it would be some good nostalgia for me and she'd enjoy it at some point. Then at her second Christmas, we also acquired the Tim Burton version. I hadn't realized how much they'd affected her until she was 15 months old, just beginning to speak in complete sentences, and picked up a subscription card that had fallen out of a magazine and went into a little house we'd made out of a cardboard box and I heard this emanating from within:

*booming low voice* "Close the gate!"

"What I got Mr. Wonka?"

"I got a golden ticket!"

"Let's go see the fractory!" (not a misspelling; she said it that way for ages)

She was barely verbal and we had no idea she'd even really been watching, much less paying enough attention to reenact scenes. That was the first time I ever saw my child pretending or using her imagination in any obvious way and it still fills me with wonder and makes me smile every time I think about that experience.

These days Veruca Salt figures prominently into her fantasy life and I often walk past the door to her room in time to catch her yelling, "I wanT iT...... Nooooooooooooooooow!" as she jumps from her bed into the imaginary garbage chute. Other times, she'll announce in all earnestness and with a perfect British accent, "Daddy, I want another pony." at the dinner table.

I haven't quite figured out which version is my favorite. The songs from the new version are lyrics taken directly from Roald Dahl's book, while the lyrics from the 1971 version are hilariously dated and decidedly UNpolitically correct. My favorite is the Veruca Salt verse from the Oompa Loompa Song:

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have another puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-da-dee
If you are wise, you'll listen to me

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who's to blame

The mother and the father

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da
If you're not spoiled, then you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do

Who could get away with writing that and making it accessable to a bunch of soccer moms in this day and age? You gotta admire those big brass ones.

When The Doormouse was in her pre-verbal stages, we were serenaded with this line: "Ooompa loompa, doom-pa-dee-daddy" over and over. And over. And. Over. It reminded me of the professor I had in 18th Century theory course in college who would walk over to the piano while lecturing, play a V7 chord, and walk away, leaving us with no resolution to the dominant. He thought it made us pay more attention; it was worse than dragging nails across a chalkboard to a bunch of music majors. My daughter rivaled him in sheer pest-i-ness as she taught me the meaning of by repeatedly singing half of a phrase for months on end.

Based on the same song, this game was spontaneously created in the car the other day:

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee... truck"

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee... shoe"

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee... cracker"
*giggles more*

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee teeth"
*gales of laughter*

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee spoon and fork"
*gales of laughter, knee slaps*

"Momma, we're so silly, aren't we?"

So thanks Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Danny Elfman, Mel Stuart, Gene Wilder, Walter Schraff, and Leslie Bricusse for occupying such a substantial place in my family's life and giving us so many memories that will last longer than the movies or the books. Without you all, we'd probably all be singing the Barney Song at my house... and that would really be inappropriate.