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- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
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James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Book Club review, by Jenny McWha, January 2010
JAMES and the
by Roald Dahl
I have a feeling that through your lifetime, most, if not all of you have come in contact with a book by Roald Dahl. From 'Matilda' to 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', from 'The Twits' to the 'Witches', I think everyone has some kind of fond memories of these books. So when Jenifer (GCDA's Editor) asked me if I wanted to do a review of James and the Giant Peach, I agreed right away. Now, you might be thinking: "Jenny, why did you do a review of a book for kids?" But I firmly believe, especially after reading this book, that there are many books that span across every age, especially Roald Dahl’s books.
James and the Giant Peach tells the story of James, a boy who had to leave his wonderful house by the sea after his parents died in a freak rhinoceros accident. Now he has to live with his horrible Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spike, who make him work all day. However, his life changes when he receives some magic crystals… and drops them all over the garden. Now he has to deal with a rapidly growing peach and a group of larger-than-normal insects. Eventually, the peach gets so big that James and his new friends come to inhabit it as it rolls away into adventure.
The Good: Firstly, I would like to say that if you haven’t read anything that includes pictures lately, do it right now. Reading all our grown-up chapter books, I feel like we forget how wonderful it is being able to look at pictures while we read. My version of the book includes lovely drawings by Quentin Blake, and they totally enhanced my reading experience. I even stopped in the middle of the chapter to see if the centipede really did have forty-two legs (almost—he had forty). Roald Dahl also has this magical fairy-tale quality to his books. The main characters may not have the best lives to start out with, but with the help of a little magic, a good heart, and wonderful friends, they find adventure and a newer, happy life. I couldn’t help but smile at the characteristics of fairy stories that Dahl twists or makes all his own. It’s wonderful to read about a world where a giant grasshopper can make the most beautiful violin music and a giant centipede has to have help tying his forty-two pairs of boots every time he goes outside. Over all, it is a lovely book about hope and adventure and new and wonderful things, and I promise you you’ll have a grand ol’ time reading it, and maybe remembering some great books from your own childhood!
Downside: I find it kind of hard finding something wrong with Roald Dahl. However, if you want a more challenging read I don’t think I would recommend this book to you. I read it very quickly and even found my mind wandering to other things because I was reading so fast. (But that could just be because I was reading it in between also reading chapters of 17th century literature for university!). I still wholeheartedly recommend it, though!
Genre: Adventure fiction.
Ages: Everyone! Read it on your own, read it to your little brothers and sisters, make your parents read it, everyone.
Other Books: Well, Roald Dahl has a lot of books. The only other one I really remember reading personally is 'The Twits' in grade 3, which is also very good. I also read a book of weird and wonderful short stories he wrote called 'Skin'. It’s for older teens and adults but I highly recommend it. Of course, there’s also movies based on Dahl books, such as 'Matilda', 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (the original one), 'The Witches', 'James and Giant Peach', and the 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', the newest adaptation. As for other authors, the writing style definitely made me think of 'The Borrowers' by Mary Norton; another must-read.
Rating: Two thumbs up!