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Customer Review

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird kids fiction, January 2, 2010
This review is from: James and the Giant Peach (Paperback)
I bought this book.

Dahl's name on a book, to me, is synonymous with a wild ride. James and the Giant Peach is quite possibly his craziest book (that I've read) so far.

Dahl's penchant for abused children facing down a cruel world sets the scene, with James Henry Trotter (whose parents were gobbled up by a rhinoceros) living a lonely, miserable life in the cruel care of his aunts Spiker and Sponge (who are, of course, truly horrible people, even for Dahl's worlds). Then one day a strange man appears and gives James magical green things, telling him to brew them into a tea and drink them and marvelous things will happen.

Parents will be close to screaming at this point, both because of the blatant abuse of the lead character and the danger of eating things strangers (and this man is indeed VERY strange) offer. Consider it an opportunity to have a talk or two about the serious subjects with your kids.

James accidentally trips and loses the green magical things, which burrow into the ground and instead work their magic on the few occupants of the horrible aunts' pitiful garden. The strange man was right, though, and the peach tree somehow surviving in such a horrible place, grows a gigantic peach that serves as boat, meal and almost a secondary character in James' voyage to freedom.

James and the Giant Peach is quite "out there". In fact between giant bugs, sheer strangeness and outlandish extremism (and cloud people) James and the Giant Peach could fit into the bizarro genre, if it was commonly aimed at children readers.

There is some issue with language ("ass" is used several times) and the level of abuse James suffers that makes this book not for all families. But the underlying theme is one of taking your life into your own hands and choosing your own actions rather than letting the actions of others force you into things.

Dahl's books might be of particular value to families and children struggling to cope with real life abuse and pain, as every story I've read so far has pit a mostly helpless child against forces entirely out of their control, and yet through thoughtfulness and great-heartedness wonderful things come to those who choose to live beyond the harshness of the world. Like many children found solace in the Harry Potter series after the death of a parent, some might also find solace and aid in coping from Dahl's dark, but triumphant tales of recovery.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 10, 2011 1:51:51 PM PDT
J. G. Lewis says:
Excellent review, thank you...
What did you think of the quality of the illustrations, btw?

Posted on Jun 4, 2013 2:16:10 PM PDT
Dana Lucas says:
Thank you for your insightful review! Given what you said, I will be reading this book TO my daughter so we can discuss it along the way...
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Location: Louisville, KY

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