October 08, 2011
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Once upon a time James had a happy family. But then his parents die and he is sent to live with his cruel aunts who positively hate him. It takes a true miracle in the form of a strange little man to change his life around. But the bag the man gives him is spilled and suddenly a tree that has never before produced fruit starts to grow a peach. But not just any peach, a giant one. But what's inside the peach is truly the most spectacular. Not only the peach has grown, but a few bugs as well, and they are very interested in James. Their adventure begins when the peach falls loose from the tree and starts rolling down the large hill that James lives on.
The characters were very interesting in this book. Being that a good proportion of them were bugs it tried to stay true to their habits although the centipede was a bit of a scoundrel. Some of them didn't get as much description in the story and I often wondered why they were even bothered with. The aunts were deliciously cruel but the main protagonist in the book, James, actually didn't have a lot of personality of his own. I guess this would be useful for a child reading to insert themselves into James place.
This book was a lot darker than I remembered it being. Spoilers ahead, there were people who were described as dying in this book, and with no remorse in the telling! Some of the centipede's poems were a little unusual as well and a small cuss word was used quite frequently. But being as I didn't remember this from the reading as a kid obviously it doesn't effect children too much. It was a very whimsical story, and while obviously implausible, it was told in a fairy tale sort of way which makes that acceptable.
I did still like the book despite reading more into it now than as a child. It allows you to suspend reality and try to imagine just what it would be like to live in a peach.
James and the Giant Peach