James and the Giant Peach
By Roald Dahl
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: Children’s Fiction
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!
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.”
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.
Enjoyed with a nice blend of iced, peach tea of course!