Mike Brown's Reviews > James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
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's review
Sep 05, 12

Read in August, 2012

Roald Dahl was one of my favourite and most memorable childhood authors and reading the book evoked plenty of childhood memories!

The book’s central character is a young boy; James Henry Trotter, whose life took a tragic turn for the worst when his mother and father were eaten by a rhinoceros. James was sent away to live with his two abusive aunts, Aunt Sponger and Aunt Spiker, in an isolated house on top of a hill. James lives a solitary and extremely unhappy life, until one day a mysterious magical old man appears in James’ garden and handed him a small bag of strange green stones which seem to move. The stones have special powers which lead to James’ escape from his miserable life with the two aunts, inside a giant peach.

James embarks on a fantastic journey whilst inside the peach, with a number of wonderful oversized speaking garden insects. His journey concludes across the Atlantic Ocean, in New York, where the peach is impaled on the top of the Empire State Building. The occupants, initially mistaken for alien invaders, start fresh new positive lives. In particular, James transforms the peach’s giant stone into a monument and his home, where he has weekly visits from hundreds of children with whom he shares his amazing tale of the giant peach.

In terms of how this book could be used in the classroom, options include inspiration for art work, and creative writing.

Regarding the age range, I would suggest 9-11 years old. This is due to the book presenting a number of difficult themes including child abuse, abandonment, revenge, and ultimate redemption. Roald Dahl handles the issues with sensitivity and coaches them in humour, but nonetheless they are there. It would be important for the class teacher to be conscious of these themes.

Roald Dahl also makes effective use of poetry throughout the book and this could be used as an introduction to poetry writing.

In conclusion, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach is a timeless book that any primary classroom should have on its shelves and be accessible for independent reading.

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