I picked up a Roald Dahl book, James and the Giant Peach, after what seems like an eternity. And I only did it because it seamlessly became part of the October Yellow Book Cover Month. And what an absolute delight the book was! Not since reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have I read a Dahl book and this one was equally quirky and fun. It felt like going back to my childhood. What a fun, childlike and nostalgic read it was!
So what is James and the Giant Peach about?
It is about the eponymous James who had an absolutely terrific life living by the sea with his parents but in an unfortunate yet bizarre incident, (getting eaten by a pair of rhinoceros, no less) his parents die and now James has to live with his terrible aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. They treat him poorly, making him constantly do chores, starving, abusing and punishing him. Worse still, they live on top of a hill, far away from his beloved sea and his dastardly aunts do not allow him to go down this isolated hill and meet or play with other children. And that is the worst kind of treatment any child can be given – to cut a child off from other kids his age is nothing short of abuse and exploitation.
One fine day, James comes across a rather strange man in the garden. The man hands him tiny yet colourful beans and gives precise instructions on how to use them. But as luck would have it, James slips and the beans scatter about and he is too slow in retrieving them.
Later he sees that, to his utter surprise, the peach tree, which had lain barren till now, had fruited. What’s more is that the peach keeps growing bigger and bigger and bigger until it becomes one giant peach!
But unfortunately, his aunts are the ones who notice this first and the scumbags that they were, they decide to satiate their greed by sellig this giant peach as a star attraction for the villagers. They charge them tickets to look at this ginormous peach but sadly lock up poor James so that he does not create any trouble.
James is ordered then to clean up the need after the aunts shut the peach spectacle. He goes near the fruit to eat it (as he was starved the entire day, poor thing) and the peach flesh turns out to be the juiciest one he has ever tasted.
But there is more in store for him, dear readers.
As he was eating the peach, he realises that there is a door in the peach. He enters it and sees the most astonishing sight – giant bugs and insects! A giant centipede with as many shoes on him as his legs, a giant spider, a huge earthworm, a gloworm, a ladybug and more.
These gigantic insects make James comfortable and tell him that they became so big after swallowing some tiny green seeds (and so the mystery has been solved of the vanished green magic beans!). They tell him their grand plan of rolling the giant peach and visiting places!
Oh how very exciting!
After a good night sleep, they get their plan rolling or rather their peach. In the process they squish both of James’s aunts (good riddance I say!) and then they are off…rolling and tumbling away to their next big adventure.
And many adventures await them, my dear readers. From battling hunger to sharks to vicious fantastical rain and snow creating Cloud Men to floating away because of an ingenious idea from James, this gang of insects and a gangly boy is set to travel the world on their unique mode of transport – a giant peach!
I think, you, my reader friends, are in for utter delight if you read James and the Giant Peach and join gangly James and his gang on their rollicking adventure. It is thrilling and educational (since it teaches you a lot about the importance of insects we love to scorn today). Adults and children alike will enjoy this short novel. Adults can relive their youthful days and children can stimulate their imagination and perhaps get a boost to venture into the garden in search for similar delights.
Now, my reader friends, I shall stop sounding like a tourist brochure, or worse like an overused advert, and let you buy the book and experience it yourself!