November 01, 2009

james and the giant peach :: roald dahl

Title: James and the Giant Peach
Author: Roald Dahl
Published: Puffin, 2008

Read: October 2009; NYC, CT
Format: trade paperback

After a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger, James accidentally sets an amazing voyage in place. He becomes captain of an enormous peach and finds travel companions in a gang of giant insects. Together, they face adventure and embark on lives far more extraordinary than the ones they knew before.

Like most of Dahl's children's books, James and the Giant Peach is a wonderful, comforting joy to read. I have nothing to say by way of criticism and will not theorize about possible messages or subtexts. Instead, I'll relish in one of Dahl's more darling moments:

'...Some of us, of course, are born with more spots than others, but we never change them. The number of spots that a Ladybird has is simply a way of showing which branch of the family she belongs to. I, for example, am a Nine-Spotted Ladybird. I am very lucky. It is a fine thing to be.'

'It is, indeed,' said James, gazing at the beautiful shell with the nine black spots on it.

'On the other hand,' the Ladybird went on, 'some of my less fortunate relatives have no more than two spots altogether on their shells! Can you imagine that? They are called Two-Spotted Ladybirds, and very common and ill-mannered they are, I regret to say. And then, of course, you have the Five-Spotted Ladybirds as well. They are much nicer than the Two-Spotted ones, although I myself find them a trifle too saucy for my taste.'

'But they are all of them loved?' said James.

'Yes,' the Ladybird answered quietly. 'They are all of them loved.'

Perfect. Charming. Sweet:
5 out of 5 stars.

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