Esio Trot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the television film based on Esio Trot, see Roald Dahl's Esio Trot.
Esio Trot
First UK edition
Author Roald Dahl
Illustrator Quentin Blake
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children
Publisher Jonathan Cape (UK)
Viking Press (US)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback and paperback)
Pages 62
ISBN 0-224-02786-7
OCLC 24734818

Esio Trot is a children's novel written by British author Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake, published in 1990.[1]


Mr. Hoppy is a shy old man who lives alone in an apartment building. For many years, he has been secretly in love with Mrs. Silver, a woman who lives below him.[2] Mr. Hoppy frequently leans over his balcony and exchanges polite conversation with Mrs. Silver, but he is too shy to disclose how he feels. Mr. Hoppy longs to express his feelings to Mrs. Silver, but he can never bring his lips to form the words.

Mrs. Silver has a small pet tortoise, Alfie, whom she loves very much. One morning, Mrs. Silver mentions to Mr. Hoppy that even though she has had Alfie for many years, her pet has only grown a tiny bit and has gained only 3 ounces in weight. She confesses that she wishes she knew of some way to make her little Alfie grown into a larger, more dignified tortoise. Mr. Hoppy suddenly thinks of a way to give Mrs. Silver her wish and win her affection.

Mr. Hoppy tells Mrs. Silver that he - in fact - does know of a way to make a tortoise grow bigger. He writes the following words on a slip of paper, and lowers it down to Mrs. Silver:


Mr. Hoppy explains that these magic words, when whispered in Alfie's ear three times a day, will cause Alfie to grow bigger and bigger. Mrs. Silver is doubtful, but agrees to try. (The words are, reversed, Tortoise, tortoise, get bigger bigger! Come on, tortoise, grow up, puff up, shoot up! Gorge! Guzzle! Stuff! Gulp! Put on fat, tortoise, put on fat! Get on, get on, gobble food!)

Over the next few days, Mr. Hoppy carries out the second part of his plan. He visits every pet shop in the city, and buys many tortoises of various sizes, but none that weigh less than 13 ounces. Mr. Hoppy brings all the tortoises back to his apartment and installs them in a makeshift corral in his living room. Next, Mr. Hoppy builds a special tool to help him snatch the tortoise from Mrs. Silver's balcony. He fastens a handle to the end of a long metal tube, and a tiny claw at the bottom. By pulling the handle, the arms of the claw gently open and close.

The following day, when Mrs. Silver leaves for work, Mr. Hoppy selects a tortoise from his living room that weighs exactly 15 ounces. He carefully picks Alfie up from the lower balcony, and exchanges him with the new tortoise. When Mrs. Silver returns home, she faithfully whispers the magic words in Alfie's ear, but does not notice that an exchange has been made.

Over the next 8 weeks, Mr. Hoppy continues to switch Mrs. Silver's current pet with a slightly larger tortoise, but she still does not perceive that her pet is growing in size. One afternoon, Mrs. Silver comments to Mr. Hoppy that Alfie seems a bit bigger, but cannot tell for sure. Suddenly, Mrs. Silver notices that Alfie can no longer fit through the door to his house, and exclaims to Mr. Hoppy that his spell is sure to be working. Mrs. Silver runs inside and weighs her pet, and is surprised to find that Alfie now weighs 27 ounces, more than double the weight he was before. Mr. Hoppy summons his courage and asks Mrs. Silver if he can come down and see the effect for himself. Mrs. Silver, in raptures over her pet's transformation, gladly grants his request.

Mr. Hoppy races down the stairs, nervous and excited to be on the brink of winning Mrs. Silver's heart. Mrs. Silver flings open the door, embraces Mr. Hoppy, and expresses her admiration for Mr. Hoppy's magical spell. However, the tortoise cannot fit in the house now, so Mr. Hoppy tells Mrs. Silver to say a magic spell that night and the next night. His part works splendidly, and Mr. Hoppy, suddenly emboldened by Mrs. Silver's warm smile, asks Mrs. Silver for her hand in marriage. Mrs. Silver delightedly accepts Mr. Hoppy's proposal, then adds that she thought he would never get around to asking.

Mr. Hoppy secretly returns all the tortoises in his living room back to their respective pet shops, and Mr. Hoppy and Mrs. Silver are happily married a few weeks later. And Alfie gets bought by a girl called Roberta Squibb, and grows bigger.




Esio Trot was adapted to stage by Cambridge University student Ryan Ammar. It was performed at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge, and transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013.[3][4][5]


A 90-minute film adaptation of Esio Trot, written by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, starring Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench as Mr. Hoppy and Mrs. Silver respectively, was shown on BBC One[6] on New Year's Day 2015.[7][8] As well as relocating the storyline to the present, it also included other characters such as Mr Pringle (played by Richard Cordery), Mr Hoppy's immediate next-door-neighbor, and a narrator who also lived in the building (played by James Corden; the film ends with the revelation that he and his children received the last of Mr Hoppy's surplus tortoises and learned the full story from him). Unlike the book, where Mrs Silver never learns of Mr Hoppy's plan to switch tortoises, the film concludes with Mr Pringle exposing the scheme, but although briefly hurt by the deception, Mrs Silver forgives Mr Hoppy when she learns that he is planning to leave, reasoning that anyone willing to go to those lengths to make her happy genuinely cares for her.


  1. ^ "Stories". Roald Dahl. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Esio Trot". Roald Dahl. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Esio Trot, BBC 1". Broadcast. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Martin, William (23 August 2013). "Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman to star in Roald Dahl’s 'Esio Trot' for BBC One". CultBox. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Farrington, Joshua (23 August 2013). "Dench and Hoffman to star in BBC Dahl". The Bookseller. Retrieved 23 August 2013.