Classic Corner: George’s Marvellous Medicine


Name: George’s Marvellous Medicine

Author: Roald Dahl

Year: 1981

Genre: Children’s, Fantasy

George’s Marvellous Medicine is the 1981 classic children’s story by Roald Dahl, about a boy named George who takes revenge on his mean Grandma by concocting a marvellous medicine.

Our story begins with George being left alone with his Grandma whilst his mum does some shopping and his dad does some work on the farm. It is when his parents are away that his Grandma is especially mean to him and when she frightens him he decides to take revenge. At 11am she is due to take a dose of medicine so he decides to make her a new medicine with items around the house – one that is so incredible that it stops her bullying him for good.

George goes around the house and adds everything he can find, from his mum’s shampoo, to car anti-freeze, to brown paint and the farm animals’ pills. At 11am he finishes his medicine and gives it to her. After some very dramatic reactions she begins to grow, so much so she shoots through the first and second floor of the house and ends up with her head sticking out. 

George’s mother returns from shopping in horror, however his father gets excited and they offer the medicine around to most of the animals – all of which have the same effect as they did on George’s Grandma and they grow massively, though the medicine runs out. They also lift Grandma out of the house by crane and she has to sleep in the barn.

George’s father than has an idea to recreate the medicine so that they can sell it to the other farmers. They go round the house but George can’t quite remember which ingredients he put in all the amounts. However they mix various versions of the medicine and try it on the  remaining chickens but they don’t have quite the same effect. For example the first chicken gets extra long legs but the rest of him stays normal size.

On the fourth attempt, George puts the medicine in a cup but this time the chicken shrinks until he can barely be seen. They are about to return to the kitchen when George’s Grandma gets fed up that she is ignored and swipes the cup from George and drinks the lot, despite his protestations. From there Grandma shrinks and shrinks down until she can no longer be seen.

This is another widely inventive and funny read from Roald Dahl. I can remember reading this book as a child and loved revisiting it again. As George goes around the house and adds so many weird and wonderful things to his medicine it creates a great amount of tension as you wonder just what this medicine will do to his Grandma. 

George’s Grandma is also suitably mean in the Miss Trunchbull and Grand High Witch vein from Matilda and The Witches so it is very satisfying to see her get her comeuppance at the end of the book.

There are also some very funny parts in the story as you imagine a chicken with long legs but nothing else, also at the end we learn that Grandma is George’s maternal grandmother and initially George’s mother reacts with shock but Dahl says after an hour or so she decides it was “for the best” after all.

I would say the book is very short so I would also recommend it for young readers transitioning into longer books from young children’s books as it is quite a light read, whilst Quentin Blake’s beautiful illustrations help bring the story to life.

This is another highly recommended read.

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