Tuesday, June 27, 2006

James and the Giant Peach

Roald Dahl
Fiction, Fantasy, Children's

James Henry Trotter is a happy little boy in a house by the sea until his parents are eaten up (in broad daylight, mind you) by an escaped rhinocerous. Prepocerous? Of course! Dahl's storyline does not require logic or any other of those tiresome adult strategies for turning a simple novel into a literary exercise; it merely requires something horrible and shocking that is out of the experience of children. After his parents' death, James is sent to live with his miserly aunts Sponge and Spiker, who resemble their names. And after four years of misery (in the original editions, James is depicted in exactly the same outfit at four and at eight, with it obviously outgrown and worn in the latter case), a chance for hope occurs in the shape of a bald little magician, who gives James a bag full of something which will make wonderful things happen to him. However, when James spills the bag, the peach tree (with assorted insects) is the beneficiary, which allows James a chance for adventure and happiness at last.

As in most Dahl books, those who are good-natured are rewarded in the end, while evildoers get their comeuppance (in Sponge and Spiker's case, that comeuppance is a well-deserved flattening.) It is a classic through and through.


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