Saturday, April 25, 2009

James and the Giant Peach (RDRM #1)

What a fun way to begin the weekend on a beautiful Saturday by reading Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach! The book, along with four others, is part of my Roald Dahl Reading Marathon (RDRM). The goal is to read all the five books within two days and blog about them. And so I began reading James and the Giant Peach from the comfort of my reading chair. . .

James and the Giant Peach
By Roald Dahl (Author's Website)
Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 2007
ISBN-13: 9780141322636
160 pages

My first Roald Dahl book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I read last year in September. I have enjoyed it very much and James and the Giant Peach did not disappoint. It was a fun book and an imaginative one. Love the cover too! I went on a fantastical peachy journey with a little boy named James Henry Trotter.

At the age of four, poor young James becomes an orphan when his parents are eaten by an enormous escaped rhinocerous from the London Zoo. He then goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Sponge and Spiker. He literally slaves for them and is subjected to their daily verbal abuse. He cannot mix with other children and is not allowed to go outside.

One day, young James bumps into a strange little man and he offers James a bag of beautiful little green crystal-like things that would change his life for the better. Unfortunately at home, he spills the green little crystal-like things onto the ground around the barren peach tree. Peculiar things start to happen. A peach grows in the once barren tree and it grows bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER! And so the adventure begins. . . Two major adventures, actually: out in the sea surrounded by sharks AND high up in the sky fending off Cloud-Men.

There is one part in the story where the peach is rolling down the hill, crashing through the wall of a famous chocolate factory whereupon warm melted chocolate comes pouring out of the gaping hole. At this point, I got excited and thought, could this be THE chocolate factory? Willy Wonka's chocolate factory?

Oh, I have forgotten to mention about the other special guests who join in the adventure as well. Affected by the crystal-like little things are insects such as centipede, earthworm, grasshopper, spider, silkworm, glow-worm, and a ladybird. They have all become as big as James. And so James and all the mutated insects embark on the journey of their lives. Relating back to the peach rolling down the hill, the situation in the peach is absolute chaos:

Twice he [James] got tangled up in Miss Spider's legs (a horrid business), and towards the end, the poor Earthworm, who was cracking himself like a whip every time he flew through the air from one side of the room to the other, coiled himself around James's body in a panic and refused to unwind. Oh, it was a frantic and terrible trip!

It was hilarious and I chuckled (I am sorry I laughed at their expense) when I read statements such as this: "To make it worse, something went wrong with Glow-worm's lighting system, and the room was in pitch darkness. There are lots of light moments when the insects are stumped at the predicaments they are facing (for example, what to eat even though they are right inside a juicy peach).

It is interesting to read the different personalities of the insects. The Earthworm is gloomy and pessimistic. The Centipede is a pest (literally) but with a good heart and he always break into songs. And then there is the motherly ladybird. James the little boy is obviously the thinker.

It is truly an imaginative fare that has kept me glued to the pages. I cannot help but imagine putting myself in James's shoes. That would be one terrific experience. I also cannot help but imagine how the story would end. If you ever wonder how rainbows are made, you will find the answer here.

I love reading about the teamwork and friendship in this story. My only concern is the words used such as "idiot," "twerp," etc. and imagining children using those words after they have read them.

Now off to the second book in queue: The BFG.

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