A Dahl A Day – James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach

In celebration of my anniversary with the boy, today’s book focuses on his favourite of the two Roald Dahl stories he’s read, James and the Giant Peach.

James Henry Trotter is an orphan. He lost his beloved parents to a Rhinoceros attack when he was just four years old and, since then, has lived at the top of a hill, in complete isolation, with his vile Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. With no fun or friends to be had, James is very lonely until one day when a mysterious stranger offers him a magical way to change his circumstances forever…

James and the Giant Peach is essentially about changing the path of your life for the better. This small eight-year-old is handed a choice when a giant peach suddenly grows in his back garden – stay with his detestable aunts or crawl through the tunnel of the magical fruit towards new adventure!

The unique idea and intriguing characters makes James and the Giant Peach one of the more whimsical Dahls written. Human-sized insects, giant peaches, a troop of accommodating seagulls, evil aunts, peach-bashing sharks and angry cloud men all make more a weirdly wonderful read! I particularly love the rude but poetic Centipede – his rhymes punctuate the story perfectly – and the Ladybird is such a sweetie!

I always remember loving the Cloud Men when I was little but in this reread, they were a bit of a let-down – a little rushed and underdeveloped for my liking. The idea is fab – Men living in the sky, creating weather by hand – but the delivery felt off. Perhaps Dahl got my back up a bit by describing the Cloud Women who just sat at home, cooking tea for the Men in their caves…

That being said, the magic created by the adventure is electric! Each insect has its own voice and clever characteristics and James is the darling ‘glue’ who holds the whole story together perfectly. And though I don’t often recommend film adaptations, the Tim Burton mixed-media adaptation of the same name, though at times off kilter, is worth a watch to see these insects come to life!

4 star

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