James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

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James and the Giant Peach
By Roald Dahl
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN13: 9780142410363
Pages: 146
Genre: Children’s Fiction

Synopsis:

A little magic can take you a long way.

After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it’s as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins!


(New) Thoughts

It is not often that I explore children’s fiction and this is my first time attempting a review of one on BVT. But when I picked up this classic by Roald Dahl, I knew I would have to talk about it! I owe my experience to my current reading challenge, as that is how James and the Giant Peach landed in my hands.

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A childhood classic you’ve never read

My previous experience with Dahl’s work was limited to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Which I personally adore and could spend the day doting on. I knew that his whimsical style would agree with me. My only regret is having waited this long to enjoy this beloved story.

James loses his parents in a horrendous accident involving a rhinoceros, immediately adding that elaborate flair that only Dahl can, and is sent to live with two terrible aunts; Spiker and Sponge. He is mistreated and neglected, spending his days catering to the unrealistic whims of the two women, when one day he encounters a mysterious man. He is given a bag of magical crystals which promise to be his salvation. When he accidentally drops them into the grown by an old peach tree, the very unexpected happens. Suddenly a peach appears and grows at an alarming rate to the size of a house. Inhabited by over-sized creatures including a centipede, lady bug, spider and earth worm, James finds himself on an incredible adventure when the peach’s stem breaks setting them all in motion.

“There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t even started wondering about yet.” 

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James and the Giant Peach is a shining example of why I adore children’s fantasy. It embodies all of the elements I have come to cherish in stories, even as an adult. We are introduced to a lovable yet surely down on his luck protagonist, who is about to find his terrible life flipped upside down for the better! Add a very eccentric cast of characters to the mix and this is a recipe for fun that appeals to readers of all ages.

While the end result is full of whimsy and merriment, it is not without a few defining and more disturbing moments. I am noticing that this seems to be Dahl’s shtick.

“The peach rolled on. And behind it, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker lay ironed out upon the grass as flat and thin and lifeless as a couple of paper dolls cut out of a picture book.”

He has the uncanny ability to introduce readers into elaborately constructed worlds that seem to create a perfect balance between awful and the good. I find this a highly effective approach that really feeds the adventure.

While it can feel peculiar at the best of times and perhaps perplexing, tucked within is a beautiful story that reminds children of all ages, that happiness and love can be found within the most unexpected places and forms. James’ ability to overcome each obstacle reminds us to never lose hope. I cannot wait to explore more of Dahl’s collection and feel slightly disappointed that I missed these books as a child.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a nice blend of iced, peach tea of course!

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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49 thoughts on “James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

    1. I think since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my forst and only experience with Dahl as a child, it holds a special spot in my bookish heart. But I fell in love with this one! I want to continue reading more of his work. I have been eyeing the Witches. Do you have any suggestions?

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      1. My all time favourite Dahl was The Magic Finger, it fascinated me and for the life of me I don’t know why it’s not more widely known.
        The Witches is a close second though, I loved it, and not surprisingly I loved the Witches in it with a passion!

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    1. I did nit have much access to Dahl as a child, and now I am really enjoying the ability to explore his writing. This was really fun and made me feel quite young again at heart 😊💗 I may pick uo The Witches next. Although The BFG sounds really good also!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I read this as an adult. It was a long time ago. but I remember enjoying it. A good children’s book should be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
    I read his autobiography, detailing his experiences during WWII. He was a Spitfire pilot. The book is ‘Solo’.
    Happy Reading!
    ~Icky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you enjoyed this one – it was a particular favourite of mine growing up, along with Fantastic Mr Fox and The BFG 🙂 Can’t help but love the movie version too, although I always found the movie even more bizarre and slightly scary! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The movie is so much fun! I am still exploring his work as my access to his books was very limited where I grew uo, but I am noticing that his whimsiness tends to translate to film very well. I will have to add Fantastic Mr Fox to the list! Thank you 😊

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  3. I actually never read this or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; but I did greatly enjoy the film version of the latter: it had that absurd craziness to it, which I loved. And you’re right that Dahl does have that somewhat harsh “poetic justice” (judging from the film version of Charlie).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find appreciate the harsh “poetic justice” as you described so well! His work does seem to do well in film adaptations. I am looking forward to reading more by him soon. I loved the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory so much. Although I felt the new one did hold a bit truer to certain elements. I hope you are well 😊

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      1. I it would be just as special as an adult. Especially when it’s your first time. I can’t wait to read it to my daughter but right now she doesn’t like bugs lol. Actually maybe this book would remedy that 🤔😁

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  4. Roald Dahl was one of my absolute favorites as a kid and I must have read his books a zillion times! Good to hear you enjoyed this one… His other books are just as magical. 😉

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  5. I worked on this story as a stage production back in the day. The kids read the book as part of school and then came to see the musical. I have never read the book but the children who did the question and answer sessions loved the book. I always mean to pick this one up but never do. Perhaps this is the year. Lovely review.
    x The Captain

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  6. I have to be in the right mood to enjoy Dahl’s works, honestly. I find the dark twists of humor to be too at odds with what I desire from children’s literature most of the time. But over time, I’ve come to appreciate Dahl (and Gaiman’s children’s literature, too!). I often wonder if I had been introduced to his sense of darkness as a child if I would appreciate it more– I respect how Dahl introduces darker elements into all his children’s books. After all, why should be shelter our children from the terrible things in the world completely? They have a right to know! Has your son read much Dahl?

    Did you know Dahl has collections of adult short stories? I think you’d love how macabre they are. HIGHLY recommended. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *wow my comment posted prematurely* he enjoy it. I would love to see him read more. I have always favored the quirky and darker, so I think I am an ideal audience for Dahl. And like you, I do not feel we should shelter our own from everything. So these whimsical approaches offer a someh what subtle intro to the less pleasant aspects of life 😉

      I did not know he did! Is there a particular anthology? I would really love to explore them 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You should totally chcek them out. The collection I read is called Tales of the Unexpected. However, it might be easier to find a newer collection, or his complete works? I would ask a librarian, because many of his adult anthologies are a challenge to get a hold of in America. He’s just not well known enough for it!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read anything Dahl but have always wanted to, especially when the movies based on his books are all #classics! But wow, something about this one sounds so creepy though ahahah I heard the one with witches is super scary (at least the movie)! Great review though. Sounds like Dahl is an author that is well-worth checking out. Definitely on my reading bucket list hahah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It definitely had a few darker moments. I think that is sort of his shtick though. Adding a small dose of unpleasantness (reality) to the whimsicalness of it all. I love all of the films. So I am looking forward to exploring the books more. I am being told now that he has collections of adult short stories as well 😉

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  8. Great review, it’s fun and refreshing to read children’s books as a grown-up, I keep borrowing my son’s books!

    I remember reading James and the Giant Peach as a child. It was one of my favourite Roald Dahl books, that and The BFG. I just loved all the magical craziness going on, while the individuals were actually realistic if that makes sense!

    Liked by 1 person

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