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             James and the Giant Peach

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Dahl, R. (1996). James and the giant peach. New York, NY: Puffin Books. (Original work published in 1961).


Poor little James has had to live with his evil and lazy Aunts for three years already when his great adventure begins. One day in the garden, an old man gives him magic green things. He is supposed to put the beans in a jug and drink them and then they will make it so that James can never be miserable again. James, however, slips and spill the things under the peach tree and a huge peach tree grows.

Later that evening James sees an opening in the peach and crawls in. He meets a cast of colorful characters including a grasshopper, a lady bug, a spider, a centipede and an earthworm. They are all large and can talk. The centipede nibbles the peach stem and they all roll away, squashing the evil aunts and then landing in the ocean. Luckily, they devise a way for seagulls to save them and they fly till they land in New York City. The peach lands on top of the Empire State Building. Once safely out of the peach and down from the building, they are all treated like heroes.

My Impression

After reading this book, I am amazed by Roald Dahl’s imagination yet again. This is a wonderful fantasy book for elementary age children. There is lots of action, a great adventure, and everyone lives happily ever after. This book could even be read to the youngest of children. It reminds me of the great older fairy tales of the past, except it may be a little less violent.


This is a multi-book review. See also the title Disney’s James and the Giant Peach. Dahl: Kirkpatrick: If you haven’t heard the news by now, you soon will. Disney’s latest production is an animated version of James and the Giant Peach, with illustrations by Lane Smith. This, of course, offers new opportunities for movie-book tie-ins, the first of which was by Dahl’s daughter, Lucy, a “scrapbook” of the movie combined with mementos of her childhood . Now, with a text by screenwriter Kirkpatrick, Disney is offering a picture-book version of the movie that has condensed and changed the story, and in the process, flattened it considerably. The book may be all right for the preschool set who have seen the film and want to enjoy the full-color artwork again, but there is no substitute for the original. To that end, Knopf has reissued James with new pen-and-ink artwork by Smith. The art in both books is pure Smith, lots of geometric shapings and Stinky Cheese Man-style faces. Kids new to the story or fresh from the movie won’t mind a bit, but the contemporary artwork may cause a sigh among older readers who are fans of Nancy Burkert’s delicate and detailed illustrations. Libraries that buy these may want to hold onto their original copies as well. Category: For the Young. 1996, Knopf, $16 and $16.99. Gr. 3-5.

Cooper, I. (1996, May 1).  [Review of the book James and the giant peach, by R. Dahl]. Booklist 92(17). Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/

This newly illustrated edition of an avowed children’s favorite has all the makings of a classic match-up: Milne had Shepard, Carroll had Tenniel, and now Dahl has Smith. Yes, there is a movie tied in to all of this, but more importantly, author and illustrator were made for each other, and it’s of little consequence that it took almost 35 years for them to meet. 1996, Knopf; Puffin/Penguin, $16.00 also available in paper; $4.99. © 1996 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kirkus. (1996).  [Review of the book James and the giant peach, by R. Dahl]. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com/

Uses in the Library

After building a fantasy book display including this book. I give the children time to read one and then encourage them to create a poster of the book. The posters could resemble  “Now Playing” posters at the theater. Each child could make a poster for one of the books and I could hang them behind the books on the wall. This would encourage their artistic creativity, imagination, interest in fantasy books, and make an awesome looking display!


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