Review of ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl

I don’t remember ever reading this classic Dahl book before, although I used to watch the film a lot. I thought it would be fun to experience the original story. And it was! A delightful and wickedly funny short read.

The concept of the story is that James Henry Trotter, a lonely 7-year-old boy neglected by his cruel aunts, is given a bag of magic wiggly things (crocodile tongues, apparently) by a strange man. James is actually instructed to mix them up and drink them, but he trips over and they’re absorbed into the roots of a peach tree. An enormous peach then grows and is turned into a tourist attraction by the aunts. However, James discovers a tunnel inside the peach. He crawls inside and finds supersized insects who become his friends. They all set off on an adventure across the ocean.

The writing is a typical Dahl mixture of lively dialogue, silly rhymes and moments of lyrical sadness. There isn’t perhaps as much plot as you’d expect, especially if you’re familiar with the film. I was thinking, where are the skeleton pirates? How come the rhino never makes an appearance? Is that really the end of Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge? In the book, there’s no confrontation of James’s past. He simply escapes with his friends, has an interesting journey and makes a new life in another country. I love the characters, especially the insects. They’re all individuals with endearing qualities.

First published in 1961. The edition I read was a Puffin e-book with illustrations by Quentin Blake.

15 thoughts on “Review of ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl”

    1. My favourite Dahl as a child was probably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Matilda 🙂

      1. I loved Matilda as well, my daughter has been listening to the audio book of Matilda and I’m so glad she’s been enjoying it – they are still such good stories.

        1. You’re right, they’re fantastic stories!
          And Matilda is a celebration of reading too 🙂

  1. I first read this book a few years ago and I was completely charmed by it. I love how it leaves many questions unanswered.

    Also: Spiker and Sponge are the best names for aunts, wouldn’t you agree?

    1. It’s a very charming book indeed! Have you seen the film?
      The aunts’ names are very apt. Dahl was great at choosing names.

        1. It’s definitely worth a watch! They do add more story, some of it very weird. It was one of the first films I saw at the cinema.

  2. Haha I read this book only 3 years ago; it is typical Dahl with his dark humour and weird and wonderful creatures. Being a retro geek, I’m currently watching episodes of Tales of the Unexpected – Dahl introduces many of the tales and his dark humour is clearly evident. Thanks for writing and sharing.

    1. It’s one of his best! Watched and read Tales of the Unexpected years ago, I remember it’s quite sinister.

  3. I love anything written by him! Including his adult short stories! Love your review! Now you make me wonder about James’s past too! Endearing qualities – – you got that spot on!

    1. I hadn’t read any Dahl for years but then I saw this one as a library ebook!
      Thanks Jee 🙂
      Not everything was explained in this book but I suppose that’s children’s books for you and it’s part of the magic.

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