Bibliography: Dahl, Roald. James and the Giant Peach. Illustrated by Lane Smith. Knopf, 1961. 126 pages. Tr. $13.65, ISBN 978-0-679-88090-5
Plot: James parents were killed by an escaped rhinoceros from the zoo and is sent to live with his two horrendous aunts, who stuck him up in the dirty attic with little more than a rag for a blanket. He was always hungry, cold, and miserable, and the only friend he had was the black widow he shared his pathetic room with. One day James is crying in the bushes and stumbles across a strange, little man who understands what James is going through and gives him a bag of bright green crocodile tongues. While walking back home, James trips and spills the bag onto the peach tree that never produces fruit. The magical tongues help the peach tree produce a peach the size of a house. James ventures inside the peach and meets seven large insects who were also transformed by the tongues. James and the insects escape on an adventure to be remembered.
Review: This is one creative story. It is tragic tale that turns into a magical adventure of escape to happiness. After his parents are killed by an escaped rhinoceros, James is forced to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Upon meeting a mysterious little man, James’ world changes and he is soon on an adventure inside a giant peach with seven anthropomorphic insects. Their travels are rough and a bit extreme, but the excitement never ends. The story is accompanied by lovely illustrations that capture the excitement of the story. Roald Dahl truly knows now to write a children’s story that can capture the imagination and produce a fun-filled experience. This is one story that should be shared with all.
Reading Level/Interest Level: 4.8/3-6 graders
Similar Materials: Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard Atwater, Other Roald Dahl books.
Reader’s Advisory: Roald Dahl is a great author and I love all of his stories, they are always so creative, but they also know how to touch on the more sensitive issues. He writes about children who are miserable and struggling, but in the end they end up happy and more at ease. James is a great example of this. The Centipede, The Earthworm, The Old Green Grasshopper, The Ladybug, Miss Spider, The Silkworm, and The Glowworm become James’ friends when he needs them most. Take a ride on a giant peach for the adventure you never thought possible.