Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach

Roald Dahl
Illustrator:   Quentin Blake 
For ages 5 to 8
Penguin, 2001   ISBN: 978-0141304670

There can be no doubt that James Trotter had every reason to be miserable. Not only had his beloved parents died in an unfortunate accident involving a rhino, but he also had had to leave his wonderful home by the sea to go and live with his frightful aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. These two women did everything they could to make James’s life as unhappy as possible; they did not give him enough to eat, they made him work very hard, and all in all they were a thoroughly despicable pair.

Then one day James was given an odd gift by and even odder little man. It was a bag of strange little green crystals that moved and wriggled. The old man told James that if he put the crystals in water and then drank up the drink he, James, would have all sorts of wonderful and good things happen to him. Unfortunately James dropped the bag and every one of those little crystals wriggled away and were gone before James was able to retrieve them.

The magic of the crystals was not altogether gone however. Ssoon the dreadful aunts and James saw that a peach was growing on their sad little peach tree. It grew and grew and grew until it was as big as a house. Of course the aunts were eager to profit from having such an extraordinary peach on their property, and soon crowds of people came to gaze at the enormous fruit. One night James went to look at the peach and saw a tunnel leading into the heart of the peach. James went into the tunnel and crawled up it until he found himself inside the peach stone and in the company of an extraordinary collection of creatures.

The creatures seemed to know just what to do, and soon the peach, with its passengers, was bumping and rolling down the hill. James and his new friends were off on a grand adventure; one which would require all of them to use their skills and talents for the good of the whole group.

This wonderful story, which has become a classic, is touching, funny and a joy to read. Roald Dahl perfectly balances adventure with wonderful characters and a gripping story, and Quentin Blake’s signature illustrations beautifully compliment the text.