James and the Giant Peach

“I’m mad for crispy wasp-stings on a piece of buttered toast,
And pickled spines of porcupines. And then a gorgeous roast
Of dragon’s flesh, well hung, not fresh-
It costs a buck at most,
(and comes to you in barrels if you order it by post.)”
(James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl)

Being a great fan of Roald Dahl, I couldn’t help but be a little surprised by James and the Giant Peach. Although one of his more popular works, it contains less of his characteristic style and instead has the distinct feel of being influenced by older children’s novels, such as Alice and Wonderland. After checking the publication information, it turns out that it was almost his earliest published work for children, with Gremlins being its only predecessor and familiar books like Matilda having been published over two decades later.

I am sure that I’m not alone in idolizing well-loved and established authors like Roald Dahl and it is infinitely interesting to me to see proof that even he didn’t have his own style leap fully formed from his young head. James and the Giant Peach is brilliantly creative, but, in terms of Dahl’s style, it reads like a work in progress. Instead of pairing this work with other Dahl classics or comedic adventures, I would have to put it in a mid-century children’s book course along with titles like Half Magic. It is fantastic and almost wholesome, but doesn’t have that darkish edge that his later works do.

Beverage: A nice, sweet hot chocolate would fit the bill.

Reminds me of… as I said, Alice in Wonderland and also, in terms of the getting-out-of-the-doldrums plot line, The Phantom Tollbooth.

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3 thoughts on “James and the Giant Peach

  1. Hmmm, this is one of my favourites of Dahl actually. I can remember being very small and pretending that my bed was a giant peach pulled along by seagulls. No wonder I didn’t quite fit in at school, I was clearly quite mad.

    • I don’t think that’s mad at all – it would be more insane if you didn’t have any fantasies regarding one of your favorite books! Also, to be clear, i’m not saying that I don’t like this book – quite the contrary – but that I can see Dahl’s style developing, unlike his other works where it is fully formed.

  2. My favorite of his is BFG. James and the Giant Peach never interested me too much, partially because I didn’t like peaches…

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