by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach was a hit.
If you're not familiar with the story, here goes: James lives with his nasty aunts and is thoroughly miserable until one day magic happens (I'll leave you to find out how) and an ancient peach tree in the backyard suddenly grows a beautiful peach. Not just any peach, either. This one keeps growing until it's bigger than the house! When the peach breaks free and goes rolling off on fantastic adventures, James happens to be aboard- along with a handful of insects which have also magically grown to tremendous size. They're quite the characters. We got the most laughs out of the endless banter between the Earthworm and the Centipede with his many, many boots.
It really is a fun story. All the more delightful that lots of facts about the insects are working into the story, so you don't even realize you're learning about them. My daughter and I got into a conversation about it afterwards, I mentioned one of the facts about the bugs and suddenly she said: "wait! I thought it was fiction. You mean that's true?"
So I explained that even though a fictional story is made-up, usually the setting and things that occur really do exist or could happen. But you can tell the difference. Let's see if you can tell, I said to her. "Do ladybugs help the garden by eating aphids and other nasty bugs?" Yeah, she said. "And do earthworms help with the dirt?" Yeah. "And do centipedes wear boots?" She giggled, No. "See! You already know, which parts are made-up and which parts are real."
Anyway, it was fun. I was trying to think afterwards of all the other Roald Dahl books I've read. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel The Great Glass Elevator. Matilda. The BFG. Danny, the Champion of the World (which is about pheasant hunting and poaching!) and my favorite, Fantastic Mr. Fox. And he's written so many, many others. Which are your favorites?
Rating: 3/5 ........ 126 pages, 1961