James and the Giant Peach
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Borzoi Book, Alfred A Knopf, 1996, 1961
Here is another childhood classic I seemed to miss out on in my kittenhood. A happy little boy whose parents tragically die goes to live with 2 hateful aunts and he dreams of escape. What child or kitten who was so angry and his or her parents or guardians that they didn’t wish they could escape the way James did!
James’ aunts made him so unhappy and work so hard, one day a strange little man comes along and gives him some magic green things that he’s supposed to swallow. But on his way to go in the house his aunts stop him, put him back to work and when he goes back to chopping wood he trips and spills the bag of magic green things at the base of a peach tree. Those magic green things make the peach tree that had never even blossomed grow a peach so big – it was as big as a house! James finds his way inside the peach, meets some insects who have partaken of the magic green things and they have grown large as well. He makes friends with them and they loosen the peach from its tree and off they go to a grand adventure rolling through the English countryside, splashing down into the English Channel, escaping from sharks, flying with seagulls until at last, they come to New York City where, yes it really happened, they all live happily ever after.
This was the first of Roald Dahl’s many children’s books in which “His books stand as modern fairy tales in which powerless children triumph over evil adults. He is widely acknowledged as a literary genius who changed children’s literature forever.” (Taken from the afterword, “About the Author”) I couldn’t have said it better myself. I really like this book. It is imaginative and original, especially for the time it was written and is a good beginner book for introducing kids to a world in which they have the power to effect change. Even if kids are too young to read it themselves, it’s a good read-aloud story for nap or bedtime, one or two chapers at a time. And, in the last chapters, the reader is introduced to creatures we would meet again in Charlie and the Chocolate factory – if only in our imaginations—the famous Snozzwanger, Whangdoodle and Vermicious Knid!
After I read the book, mom got the dvd from the library and we watched it. The movie is very different from the book and we liked the book MUCH better!!! (The cloud creatures are completely omitted and the school of sharks turns into one mechanical shark.)