Sep 20, 2011

James and the Giant Peach

by Roald Dahl

Just finished reading this one with my kid, because she thought Little House in the Big Woods was boring! (We didn't even make it through the first chapter. I was disappointed by that response, actually). She wanted something more exciting! so 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


bermudaonion said...

I have fond memories of this book from my childhood.

Jenny said...

This was the first Roald Dahl book I ever read as a kid! I refused to read Matilda because I was mad at her for learning to read younger than I did, and I refused to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because I'd seen part of the movie and it scared the hell out of me. So James and the Giant Peach has a special place in my heart! But also, The BFG and Matilda. And The Witches, if that's not scary enough? And The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is pretty great.

Jeane said...

I never heard of Henry Sugar!

raidergirl3 said...

I had the same problem with Little House and my daughter when she was 7 or 8. I was so disappointed! She laughed at Ma, and thought the names Ma and Pa were too weird. A few years later I tried again, and she at least let me keep reading it to her, but she never read past the first book. I kept all my Little House books, and they have been so neglected.

Roald Dahl - the Stephen King of authors for the under 11 set.