Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the most famous and beloved works of children’s literature. It was published in 1972, eight years after the original. Elevator continues the story of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka. This story also gives Charlie’s family a much larger part to play. Charlie’s family consists of Mr. Bucket, Mrs. Bucket, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George, and Grandma Georgina. The book was dedicated Roald Dahl’s daughters: Tessa, Ophelia, and Lucy.
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator was almost called Charlie and The Great Glass “Air Machine.” Dahl thought that the word “elevator” was too American but also thought that “lift” was too boring. There have been no filmed adaptations of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Dahl was so thoroughly displeased with the 1971 film version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that he refused to allow any adaptations of Elevator to be made.
Elevator also introduces the Vermicious Knids, which were previously mentioned in James and the Giant Peach. The Knids, pronounced "K’nid," are a carnivorous species of alien, who can’t resist spelling the word SCRAM before attacking their victims. They come from Vermes, a fictional planet located 184,270,000,000 miles from Earth. "Vermicious" is an actual word, meaning "worm-like." "Knid" is a derivative of Cnidaria, which is a phylum containing many stinging aquatic invertebrates.
Elevator takes the story out of the chocolate factory and into the world at large. One group of characters in the book is the United States government. Present are the President, the Vice President, and the Cabinet. They speak to Wonka when Wonka and the Buckets are in space. They also invite the Buckets to a dinner at the White House at the end of the story. Dahl would frequently caricature government officials or people in power, and this is no exception. Here, he takes the most powerful people in America and makes them seem rather silly. He had no malevolent intent, but he did love to create mischief, just like his famed character Willy Wonka.