Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl

I should have read this book thirty years ago but somehow never got around to it. In fact, the only Dahl book I recall reading in my childhood is The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I enjoyed even though the three farmers were so disgusting. (I have since remedied this situation by reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, so you can stop feeling sorry for me.)

The kids and I watched the "James" movie sometime in the past few years, and I thought it would be fun to read the book to them as a bedtime story, but my local library didn't have a copy of it. Every library should have a copy of James and the Giant Peach! I had to take care of that.

However, even though we now have a copy of the book available to us, I think I'm not going to bother reading this to the kids. My reader snatched it up as soon as it arrived and has already finished with it, my son only wants to hear Peter and the Starcatchers at bedtime, and my youngest is only interested in books about Barbie, princesses, or Angelina Ballerina. So I read it to myself.

It was a romp! I suppose as with most children's books there's not a whole lot of deep thinking or hidden meaning involved, but the story was fantastic (and I'm going with all three of Webster's definitions here). I think Dahl himself put it better than I ever could in the interview included at the end of the book:
"My lucky thing is I laugh at exactly the same jokes that children laugh at . . . you have wonderful inside jokes all the time and it's got to be exciting, it's got to be fast, it's got to have a good plot, but it's got to be funny . . . the line between roaring with laughter and crying because it's a disaster is a very, very fine one . . . you just have to try to find it."
He found it!

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