Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything. Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did. I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.” – James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
First impressions: When I was young, I remember watching Disney’s adaptation of James and the Giant Peach. It half of it was animated in a Claymation style, and the other half was real-life. When I was a kid, I mostly liked to sing along with the catchy songs scattered throughout the movie. Now that I am a grown adult, I decided to read Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name which the movie is based on.
James is a very unhappy young orphan who is living with his dreadful aunts Sponge and Spiker. They make James do all the chores and they don’t let him play with the other boys and girls in his neighbourhood. One day, a mysterious man gives James magic crystals. When James accidentally drops all the magic crystals by the old peach tree, an enormous peach begins to grow until it is as big as a house. James decides to crawl into the peach and he discovers a fantastic secret that will change his life forever.
About the Book
Title: James and the Giant Peach
Author: Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Year Published: 1961
Genres: children’s fiction, fantasy, adventure
The book, unlike the movie, begins with a very bleak portrait of James’ life with his dreadful aunts who are extremely abusive though very dimwitted characters. James and the Giant Peach has a Cinderella-like feel to it at the beginning as the man with the magic crystals becomes essentially James’ fairy godmother. With a few magic crystals, a large peach becomes James’ escape route to freedom from his aunts. The peach whisks James away on a magical adventure with the most unlikely of characters: a glow worm, an earth worm, a ladybug, a grasshopper, a centipede, and a spider. These initially scary-looking characters become delightful companions to James on his travels.
I decided to read the book in audiobook form while I was working on a project. The audiobook is approximately 3 hours long and unabridged. For a children’s novel, 3 hours is a reasonable length. The narrator, Julian Rhind-tutt, does a fantastic plethora of accents to represent each character. It was very entertaining to listen to the distinct voices of all the different characters. Children would definitely enjoy this sort of audiobook before bedtime.
As for the writing style, it can be guaranteed that any book written by Roald Dahl is sure to be loved by any child. Roald Dahl is one of the most beloved children’s authors of all-time with his best-selling books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matlida, and of course James and the Giant Peach.
Final rating: A-
Until next time,