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Magical World of Roald Dahl to Hit the Road; Ford and Penguin Announce Voice-Activated Audiobooks App

  • Families will soon be able to listen to the much-loved story “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on the move via a unique new in-car app  
  • The iconic story is just one of many Roald Dahl books that parents will be able to voice-activate from the driver’s seat using Ford SYNC with AppLink
  • Ford and Penguin will launch the first ever Roald Dahl Audiobook app that can be voice- controlled – 50 years after “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was first published
  • This year’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” 50th anniversary celebrations include the publication of the brand new book “Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory” by Lucy Mangan, and the first ever Oompa-Loompa skydive for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity

Parents will soon be able to keep their children happily entertained on even the longest car journeys with a new SYNC AppLink enabled app featuring stories by Roald Dahl – including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.

The story published has spawned a hit musical, an opera and two major movie adaptations starring Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp respectively as the eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, is among 19 tales that feature on the Roald Dahl Audiobooks app.

Ford and Penguin are updating the existing Roald Dahl iOS app to allow voice control from the driver’s seat using Ford SYNC with AppLink.

“Enabling children to enjoy their favourite stories on the move helps make a journey an experience in its own right, and may ensure a quieter trip for parents too,” said Joe Beiser, director, Ford Connected Services, Asia Pacific, Africa, and Europe. “The partnership with Penguin extends a growing range of smartphone apps that enable drivers to stay connected to their favourite entertainment and services while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

The Roald Dahl app for models equipped with Ford AppLink follows previously confirmed apps from ADAC, Audioteka, AUPEO!,  DIE WELT, Glympse, Radioplayer, and Spotify. Available apps are featured in the Ford SYNC AppLink App Catalogue website, which allows smartphone owners to easily identify apps that can be voice-activated using the SYNC AppLink feature.

As well as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” families will be able to listen to other favourite Roald Dahl stories including “James and the Giant Peach,” “Matilda” and “The Twits.” Among the narrators are Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet, TV presenter Stephen Fry, and comedian David Walliams.

Drivers will be able to navigate hands-free through the audiobooks via voice control or alternatively operate the app through controls on the steering wheel. They will also be able to resume stories where they left off – bookmarking their current position when they leave the vehicle.

AppLink is now available on most Ford models in Europe including the Fiesta, the Kuga and EcoSport, and also will be made available on the all-new Mondeo coming out later this year.

“Children love the stories of Roald Dahl and now they can enjoy a new way of discovering Charlie, Grandpa Joe, Willy Wonka, and all their other favourite Roald Dahl characters,” said Adele Minchin, publicity director for Penguin Children’s. “We’re delighted to be partnering with Ford to bring Roald Dahl’s stories to children wherever they are.”

The first chapter of each Roald Dahl book is available free with the app, and the full stories are available for download.

Roald Dahl Day is celebrated annually on the author’s birthday, Sept. 13. In addition to the Oompa-Loompa skydive on Roald Dahl Day, the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” 50th anniversary celebrations in the U.K. have included a giant storytelling bed at Imagine Festival; Charlie-themed adventures at Kew Gardens; a handcrafted chocolate factory made of biscuit dough in Waterstones Piccadilly Circus; and the social media campaign “Just Desserts” featuring a smorgasbord of chefs creating Willy Wonka-inspired recipes.

On Sept. 15, “Puffin Virtually Live: Roald Dahl Day” broadcasts live from Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London, home of the new musical “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. This interactive webcast hosted by former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, stars Sir Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen and the cast of the musical.


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About Roald Dahl and his legacy:

Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most inventive, mischievous, successful and loved storytellers. Since his death, his work has not only endured but is still increasing in popularity. His stories are currently available in 58 languages. A conservative estimate of global sales is more than 200 million. Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s memory: Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity – created in 1991 – makes life better for seriously ill children by raising money to fund charities, hospitals and individual families in the UK. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. 10% of the author’s royalties from all his books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities. On 13 September 2006, the first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated, on what would have been the author’s 90th birthday. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually all over the world. Throughout 2014, there are celebrations to mark 50 years of Roald Dahl's iconic book, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. In 2016, there will be global celebrations for the Centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth.

About Penguin Children’s:

Penguin Children’s won Children’s Publisher of the Year at the Bookseller Industry Awards for 2011.  It comprises the following imprints: Puffin, Ladybird and Warne.  Famous for its classic fiction and beautiful picture books, Penguin Children’s Group started out as a non-fiction publisher with its first title appearing in 1940. Today it publishes a wide range of fiction, picture books and children’s classics and some of the world’s favourite authors including Eric Carle, Roald Dahl, Jeff Kinney, Jacqueline Wilson, Rick Riordan, Cathy Cassidy and Eoin Colfer and popular character brands such as Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit and The Snowman. It has also paved the way in publishing tie-in books behind interactive brands like Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters, Skylanders and Angry Birds. Penguin have also become experts in the field of publishing YA literature which connects with both teenage and adult readers, including The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

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