Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

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Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Original book cover of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator with illustrations by Joseph Schindelman
Author Roald Dahl
Illustrator Joseph Schindelman (1st US edition)
Faith Jaques (1st UK edition)
Michael Foreman (2nd edition)
Quentin Blake (3rd edition)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Fantasy
Children's novel
Science Fiction
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 159
ISBN 0-394-82472-5 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 314239
LC Class PZ7.D1515 Ck3
Preceded by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Followed by Charlie in the White House (unfinished)

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is a children's book by British author Roald Dahl. It is the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, continuing the story of young Charlie Bucket and eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka as they travel in the Great Glass Elevator.

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator was first published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1972, and in the United Kingdom by George Allen & Unwin in 1973.

Unlike its predecessor, this book has never been adapted to film. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) disappointed Dahl to the point that he refused to have a film version produced.[1] Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have announced that they have no intention of producing a sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), although elements from Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator are seen at the end of the film.[citation needed]

Dahl had intended to write a third book in the series but never finished it.[2]


The story picks up immediately where the previous book left off, with Charlie and his whole family (including the three grandparents still in bed) aboard the flying Great Glass Elevator, en route to the Chocolate Factory which Mr. Wonka intends to give to Charlie. The dizzying height to which the Elevator ascends frightens Charlie's family, especially Grandma Josephine, who panics and prevents Mr. Wonka from reversing direction. As a result, the Elevator goes into orbit about the Earth, where - making the best of a bad situation - Mr. Wonka decides to dock with a newly launched Space Hotel.

In the White House, President Lancelot R. Gilligrass, Vice President Elvira Tibbs, the president's best friend, chiefs, and the U.S. Cabinet see the Elevator dock with the Space Hotel, and fear it contains hostile agents of a foreign or extraterrestrial government, while the space shuttle containing the hotel staff and three astronauts approaches the Space Hotel. On the Hotel, Wonka and the others hear the President address them across a radio link as Martians, and Wonka therefore teases Gilligrass with nonsense words and grotesque poetry. In the midst of this, the hotel's own elevators open, revealing five gigantic amoeba-like monsters, which change shape: each forming a letter of the word 'SCRAM'. Recognising the danger, Mr. Wonka orders everybody off the Space Hotel. These shape-changers, Mr. Wonka tells the others, are predatory extraterrestrials called Vermicious Knids, waiting in the Space Hotel to consume its staff and guests. Mr. Wonka also explains that the Knids have tried to invade Earth and consume its inhabitants like they have done with many other planets (Mars, Venus and the Moon, among others) but are always incinerated because of the atmosphere protecting the planet.

Upon the Elevator's departure, the staff and astronauts go aboard, and the Knids consume twenty-four of the staff, while the others escape. Capable of flying in space at improbable speeds, the Knids dive-bomb the shuttle's engines and hull, destroying the rockets, the cameras, and the radio antenna, apparently dooming the occupants to a lifetime stranded in space. Seeing all this from the "Knidproof" Great Glass Elevator, Charlie suggests that he and his companions tow the shuttle back to Earth. In agreement, Wonka pilots the Elevator into range, whereupon Charlie's Grandpa Joe connects the two vessels by means of a steel cord. The Knids change into living segments of a towing line, with which to capture the two spacecraft, while a single Knid wraps his body around the Elevator to provide an anchor for this operation; whereupon Willy Wonka returns the Elevator to Earth, and the Knids are incinerated in the atmosphere. At the right moment, Mr. Wonka releases the shuttle, which floats safely home. The Elevator then crashes back down through the roof of the chocolate factory, but thanks to Mr. Wonka's expert piloting, the hurtling Elevator perfectly engages inside another of the same shafts that it had exited from in the first book, and rolls smoothly downward to a normal stop inside the factory.

Despite Charlie's urging, and Mr. Wonka's intention for Charlie's family to help him with the factory's operations, Grandma Georgina, Grandpa George, and Grandma Josephine still refuse to move out of their bed. Wonka subsequently prescribes them a rejuvenation formula, called 'Wonka-Vite'. The three bedridden recipients take much more than they need, and they each lose eighty years. Grandpa George reverts to one year old, Grandma Josephine three months, and Grandma Georgina - who was only seventy-eight years old - vanishes altogether, having become "minus two" (this is in contradiction to the first book, which stated that all of Charlie's grandparents were over ninety years old). Accordingly, Charlie and Mr. Wonka journey in the Great Glass Elevator to 'Minusland' (a limbo containing those subject to Grandma Georgina's transformation, discovered by Mr. Wonka when his initial experiments to create Wonka-Vite were too powerful), where Mr. Wonka restores her with 'Vita-Wonk', a sprayable compound that makes people older. Upon her return, Grandma Georgina has become 358 years old, and her memory entails a long history beginning with the voyage in the ship Mayflower and ending in the present moment. Using a more cautious dose of Wonka-Vite, her companions restore her correct age of seventy-eight; and with this done, Charlie and Mr. Wonka recall Grandma Josephine and Grandpa George their original age.

Immediately afterwards, the Oompa-Loompas tell Mr. Wonka a helicopter has landed near the factory and give him a letter from President Gilligrass, in which he says he now realizes Willy Wonka was responsible for the rescue as radar tracked the elevator to his factory, and the space shuttle made it back to Earth with 136 souls on board. The President congratulates the occupants of the Great Glass Elevator on saving the lives of the shuttle astronauts and hotel staff and invites them as the guests of honor to the White House for dinner. Charlie and Grandpa Joe end up goading the other three grandparents out of bed, pointing out that their bed can't make it up to Marine One, forcing them to leap out of bed, not wanting to miss the opportunity. As the helicopter prepares to take the family to a department store so Charlie's grandparents may obtain clothes to replace their pyjamas, Charlie and Grandpa Joe remark between themselves that their adventures have only "just begun".

Unfinished sequel[edit]

A follow-up to the book was planned, called Charlie in the White House. Charlie's family and Willy Wonka are invited by President Gilligrass to have dinner at the White House, as thanks for rescuing the Space Shuttle from its attack by the Vermicious Knids. Dahl only wrote the first chapter, which is on display at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Nene Award (1978)
  • Surrey School Award (UK, 1975)



  1. ^ Bishop, Tom (11 July 2005). "Willy Wonka's everlasting film plot". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  2. ^ Chilton, Martin (18 November 2010). "The 25 best children's books". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  3. ^ "Charlie in the White.".