Esio Trot by Roald Dahl Review

illustrated by Quentin Blake

Esio Trot

Roald Dahl wrote some great fascinating humorous books for the young reader. Dark and funny tales that have a uniqueness about them and stories that are just that little bit different from other children’s books. He certainly knew how to write stories that have lasted the test of time, and some have been taken from the page to our screens. He published 49 books, 21 of them being children’s fiction and even 3 poetry books for children. His books have now sold in excess of 250 copies worldwide so his work is still clearly enjoyed as much today as when he wrote the stories so many years ago, and by a very wide audience.

In 1990, just a couple months before he died, Dahl published Esio Tort (the last of his books to be published in his lifetime, although he had others published after his death). Now for the more observant of you reading this, Esio Trot is a bit of word play and is actually TORTOISE spelt backwards. Why tortoise? Readers of Dahl’s books will know that he loved animals and Esio Trot is a story that features a tortoise, well 140 of them if you want to be precise.

Dahl’s novels usually feature tyrannical adults and heroic/magical children, but Esio Trot is different – it is a story of loneliness and an essentially a love story written for children.

Mr Hoppy is a very shy man. He lives all alone in his apartment, spending his days tending to his plants on his balcony. But Mr Hoppy has a big secret, he is secretly in love with his downstairs neighbour, Mrs Silver. But Mr Hoppy is shy and cannot confess his feelings, so he devises a plan with the ultimate aim to win the heart of Mrs Silver.

Mrs Silver lives in the apartment directly below the lonely Mr Hoppy. Unlike Mr Hoppy, she doesn’t live alone. Mrs Silver has a small pet tortoise who lives on her balcony. A small tortoise she calls Alfie. Mrs Silver wishes that Alfie would grow a bit bigger as she has had him several years and has hardly grown.

Mr Hoppy wants to please Mrs Silver and gives her some magic words to recite that he says will make Alfie double in size in only 2 months. But of course, that’s impossible. Not for Mr Hoppy, he has to come up with a plan, with the help of a tortoise catcher and 140 tortoises, to achieve this claim and hopefully win Mrs Silver’s affections in the process. But will he be able to do it, and will they live happily ever after?

Overall, Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot is a good, simple story that children aged 7 to 9 years old will adore. It is a love story inspired by Alfie the tortoise. As you would expect from this master storyteller, it is very well written with Dahl’s dry humour and wit and expressive use of language.

Children will love this tale of Mr Hoppy’s cunning plan to win the affections of his neighbour Mrs Silver. Mr Hoppy has a long term plan that he diligently puts in motion. Whilst children may delight in the story, a story where Alfie the tortoise please Mrs Silver byt getting bigger and bigger, as an adult reader there is a downside, the message it portrays is wrong. The story is about a lonely old man who over the course of weeks keeps stealing his neighbour’s beloved pet and replacing it with others of different sizes so that Mrs Silver gets her wish of Alfie growing in size, but the ultimate aim is to win her heart and tricking her into marrying him. Whilst the story may have a happy ending (as much as it can be when you are tricking someone into doing something), the method used to get there isn’t a very good message to be sending – tricking and fooling people into believing something with an ulterior motive at play. Whilst as adult reader, that is the message that comes across to me (it is probably just me being overly critical), most young readers most likely won’t see it. For me, Esio Trot is a story ultimately about a relationship built on lies and deceit.

Ignoring the adult view of the underhanded deception at play and looking at it as a story of just pure children’s fiction without a message to be learned, it is classic Dahl with the dark humour you would expect to find in his books. It is a well-written and enjoyable, fun read that children will be able to read easily at a fast pace as it is a short book. A story that children will enjoy the humour of, despite the message that using deceit and lies to get what you want is a good thing.

To accompany the text are some excellent illustrations. it has been very well illustrated by the wonderful Quentin Blake that help young readers visualise Alfie getting bigger in size.

Rating: 4/5

RRP: £8.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)

For more information, visit Available to buy from Amazon here.

DISCLOSURE: All thoughts and opinions are our own. This review uses an affiliate link which we may receive a small commission from if you purchase through the link.


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