By Roald Dahl
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
Copyright © 1961
“James and the Giant Peach” is a story, as it were, of a young boy and a little magic that turned him into a real hero to his new and rather unlikely friends.
James was happy boy with loving parents, but one day his parents die and he is sent off to live with his Aunts. Now if such an unfortunate thing as losing your parents must happen, you would be glad to have loving relatives to take you in. Unfortunately for James, his Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker were anything but loving. For the last three years they have made him work all day and called him horrid names.
However, one day a weird old man comes by and gives him some “tiny green things” that are full of magic. He also gives James instructions on how to use these magic things, but all does not work out the way James had planned. James trips and drops his “tiny green things” and they escape into the ground, but all is not lost because this is how he ends up as the captain of a giant peach, filled with new friends, just ripe for a journey.
Once again, Roald Dahl worked his magic and created a fantastical story of a poor young man up against hard and impossible circumstances who comes out on top with the help of the fantastic. What I love about Dahl’s protagonists is that even though they are what some might consider the poor and wretched, they are not bitter. They are inherently good. When poor James is stuck with his Aunts he isn’t concerned with the fact that they don’t give him much materially; he is upset because he wants other children to play with. Dahl has a way of showing us what is really important in life – family, love, and integrity. James Henry Trotter is certainly on a par with Charlie Bucket. (Great book for children 8 and up.)