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George's Marvellous Medicine

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Wikipedia article

'George's Marvellous Medicine' (or "George's Marvelous Medicine" in the US print-runs) is a children's book written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake, first published in 1981. The book was praised for its imitativeness and humor, but was also criticized for its underdeveloped plot and somewhat abrupt ending.

Plot summary

George is an 8 year-old boy who lives in a farm with his mother, father and grandmother. He is fed up with his Grandma's selfishness, grumpiness and her attitude towards him, especially after he becomes frightened by her dark secrets. George seeks to cure it by brewing a very special medicine for her. He makes the product by collecting many harmful products throughout the house along with some animal pills, then he puts them in a giant saucepan, boils them and gives a spoonful to Grandma, only to end up making her taller than a house.

George tries out the medicine on a brown hen in the yard, and it causes her to grow several times bigger. Moments later, George's mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Kranky, return home, and they are both astounded by these events. Mr. Kranky is excited by the sight of the giant hen, and exclaims that he had been wanting to make giant animals for giant food. Together, George and his father enjoy sampling the medicine to most of the farm animals (pigs, cows, sheep, George's pony Jack Frost and Alma the nanny-goat), which makes them giant animals. However, Mrs. Kranky starts worrying about Grandma, and eventually, the Crane Company hoists her down.

Once back on the ground, Grandma excitedly hops around the farm, but is forced to sleep in the barn that night since she is too tall to go back inside the house. However, she enjoys it a lot. The next day, Mr. Kranky announces that they will continue making the medicine so it can be sold to other farms in the hopes of ending world hunger. Unfortunately, George cannot remember the exact ingredients he had used the day before. After several failed attempts (resulting in a potion that extends a chicken's legs, a potion that extends a chicken's neck, and a potion that makes the chicken shrink), Grandma strolls over to the family and demands for her cup of tea. Then she notices the cup of medicine in George's hand, and, mistaking it for tea, snatches it from him. She drinks it down, and the resulting overdose causes her to shrink into nothing. Mrs. Kranky is devastated at first, but soon agrees with her husband about her absence removing a nuisance from their lives. George then discovers that for two long days he had touched with his fingertips the edge of a magical world.

Ingredients of his new medicine

* Bathroom items: Golden Gloss Hair Shampoo, toothpaste, some shaving soap, vitamin enriched face cream, nail polish, hair remover ("Smear it on your legs"), Brillident (for cleaning false teeth), Dishworth's Famous Dandruff Cure, Nevermore Ponking Deodorant Spray and liquid paraffin.

* Bedroom items: Helga's Hair Set, "Flowers of Turnips" (it smells like old cheese), Pink Plaster Face Powder and a powderpuff and Lipstick.

* Laundry room items: SuperWhite (for automatic washing machines), WaxWell Floor Polish, flea powder, canary seeds and Dark Tan Shoe Polish.

* Kitchen cupboard: Curry powder, mustard powder, a bottle of extra hot chilli super spicy sauce, a tin of black peppercorns and a bottle of horse radish sauce.

* Shed items: Chicken Medicine, Horse strength throat lozenges, cow ointment, sheep dip and pig pills.

* Garage items: Engine oil, antifreeze and a handful of grease.

* Also: Bottle of gin, one quart dark brown gloss paint (for colour).

Georges Marvellous Medicine is set in a farm in the middle of nowhere, and begins on a Saturday morning when his mother goes into town shopping and leaves him home alone with Grandma, reminding him to ensure she gets her medicine at 11.00am. Georges Grandma is mean to him, especially when they are left alone. After Grandma has been to particularly mean to him on this Saturday morning, he comes up with a plan, to feed Grandma a new home made medicine. But with what consequences?

This book is a fantastic read for children, and adults won't be bored either. As a trainee primary school teacher, I re-read this book and instantly it bought back memories of reading it as a child and how exciting it was. Firstly, because of the absurdity of George creating such a medicine and being so naughty in doing so but secondly because it brings out your own mischievousness and you wish that you had created such a medicine.

The book would be fantastic to read out loud to a class, or could be read by children probably from year four upwards dependent upon reading ability. As well as just reading, the book could be used in a variety of other ways. Within English it could be used to complete a reading comprehension exercise, or to write you own poem about what Georges (or you own) medicine would contain, or to change the ending of the chapter and create your own idea of how the medicine effected Grandma. Or during drama you could enact some of the chapters, during art you could create your own drawings of Grandma and then compare them to the illustrator, Quentin Blakes pictures. I would recommend this book, as well as any others written by Roald Dahl.

TV version

Rik Mayall read this story for the BBC's 'Jackanory' programme, in a widely acclaimed performance.


in 2012 Chelmsford based Explore Learning made a workshop about the book

where they hotseated 'George' and made a 5th medicine and sent it to

Quentin Blake

Category:1981 novels

Category:Children's books by Roald Dahl

Category:British children's novels

Category:Size change in fiction

es:La maravillosa medicina de Jorge


fr:La Potion magique de Georges Bouillon

it:La magica medicina

nl:Joris en de geheimzinnige toverdrank

no:Georgs magiske medisin

sco:Geordie's Mingin Medicine

sv:Jojjes ljuvliga medicin

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