In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the Vermicious Knids first appear as five blobs in elevators, which then contort themselves into letters: S, C, R, A, M, respectively. The original book includes an illustration of their warning to the humans:

illustration from the book

“But if they’re so fierce and dangerous,” Charlie said, “why didn’t they eat us up right away in the Space Hotel? Why did they waste time twisting their bodies into letters and writing SCRAM?”

“Because they’re show–offs,” Mr. Wonka replied. “They’re tremendously proud of being able to write like that.”

“But why say scram when they wanted to catch us and eat us?”

“It’s the only word they know,” Mr. Wonka said.

How was this handled in translations of the book to other languages? In English, scram is a handy five-letter word. Perhaps similar words can be found, fitting more or less appropriately, in other languages too, but what about the illustration? Was it re-drawn with other letters for translated versions of the book? By the same illustrator or by someone else? Was this picture removed completely in translations?


2 Answers 2


A non-exhaustive answer to this question is "Yes", at least in some editions of the translated versions, the "SCRAM" image was redrawn.

A number of different illustrators worked on "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator", probably most famously Quentin Blake, but also Michael Foreman and Faith Jaques. The 1999 Santillana edition in Spanish I read as a child was also, like the English version, illustrated by Faith Jaques, and the "SCRAM" image was redrawn as "FUERA" ("Get out!"):

The Vermicious Knids spelling "FUERA"

As it was done by the same illustrator, it naturally matched the style of the original.

Similarly, as noted in comments, the 1997 Gallimard edition in French contains a redrawn version of the Quentin Blake art, showing the Knids spelling out "OUSTE":

Vermicious Knids spelling out "OUSTE"

The Welsh version "Charlie a'r esgynnydd mawr gwydr" has the Knids spelling out "EWCH" - slightly differently using a four-letter word instead of a five letter one.

The only other foreign language version I have been able to find is the Chinese one, "Chalie he da bo li sheng jiang ji", which, sadly, did not redraw the artwork, and stayed with the original "SCRAM":

Vermicious Knids spelling "SCRAM", Chinese edition.

  • Good answer! It would be even better if you could link to the scans you found. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 13:27

This is only one language, but the French Roald Dahl wiki, in the page for les Kpoux Vermicieux, has the "SCRAM" picture. So presumably they used the same picture.


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