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Saturday, March 21, 2015

James and the Giant Peach - Yummy


Pros: Giant peaches, flying seagulls, peculiar things, and Cloud Men
Cons: Only if you object to the phrase "silly ass"

The Bottom Line: When a giant peach is involved, well, what more could you ask for?

Poor James Henry Trotter. He had such a nice life until his parents were gobbled up by angry rhinoceroses. Then he was sent to live with is ghastly Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. But one day a strange man arrives and offers him something in a bag, something that will change his life forever. It seems James will be freed – except he loses the contents of the bag to the ground when he trips and falls. But that doesn’t mean other rather peculiar things won’t start happening, like an old peach tree growing a giant peach. Or some other very peculiar things inside. It looks like James will have his life changed after all…

I remember reading this when I was younger. I remember thinking it was creepy, the idea of swallowing all those weird little green things in the bag. How cool it would be to sail around on a giant peach tied up with seagulls. How awesome it would be to watch Cloud Men at work making things like hail and rainbows.

This is the kind of book that can have a youngster gaping away as you read, or as he/she reads. Some things Roald Dahl doesn’t explain at all – such as how the large insects James meets can talk (magic of course!), but the things he does randomly explain, like how James and the others are able to see Cloud Men and why people on airplanes never do is simply delightful. James is such a cute boy and turns out to be very daring and inventive. The reader gets to travel from England all the way to New York City and have all sorts of adventures along the way.

As usual for Dahl’s style, he doesn’t sugar-coat things. Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge get exactly what they deserve and trust me, no one is going to be sorry about it. The Centipede does tend to call people asses, so that can be up to you whether or not you want your child to see it. Personally, I doubt your child is going to go running around repeating it (I didn’t). You might learn a thing or two about grasshoppers and ladybugs, and this might also make your child curious about insects in general. For example, spiders are not evil bugs, and instead are quite useful. (as of this moment I have one living above my window…)

But as we all know, the main purpose of this book is to entertain and get a child’s imagination working. Or an adult’s. The book I bought has Quentin Blake’s illustrations; the semi-scribble yet still-better-than-anything-I-can-draw style. My favorite picture is when the peach goes sailing over the cliff to soon drop into the ocean. I mean, come on, how often do you get to see a picture of a giant peach flying through the air (minus seagulls of course). In fact, sometimes they remind me of Shel Silverstein’s drawings.

Anyway, enjoy it. If you missed it during your childhood, go read it. If you haven’t read it to your child yet, read it. If your child hasn’t read it him/herself yet, offer it up. It’s a great book that can keep kids on the edge of their seats. And it’s quite funny; the moment I started to read about the Cloud Men, it began to rain...

NT

Originally published on Epinions.com as a part of the Fight Illiteracy Write-Off. This book was also donated as part of that event.

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