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James and the Giant Peach
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that James and the Giant Peach creates a marvelous, fantastical world for young independent readers. Dahl's original cast of characters, magical and suspenseful situations, and his liberal addition of comic poetry also make this a terrific read-aloud book. However, Dahl's books are not always warm-and-fuzzy: James is orphaned on Page One, and he is treated cruelly by his selfish aunts. And, incidentally, his only true friends are giant insects. This is a charming, fast-paced fantasy for children who are ready to separate fact from fiction. If your kids enjoy the novel, also check out Tim Burton and Henry Selick's wonderful animated film adaptation, which came out in 1996.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When young James Henry Trotter is orphaned, he must leave his pleasant home by the seaside and go to live with two cruel aunts, Sponge and Spiker, who treat him like a slave. One day, an old man appears, offering James a bag of crystals that he says will make marvelous things happen. The old man's magic causes a dead peach tree to grow a piece of fruit the size of a house, and that is the start of James' fantastic adventure.
Is it any good?
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is a delightful children's novel full of adventure and singular characters. As in many of the great Roald Dahl's works, the central character is a poor, deprived child, and seeing James Henry Trotter rise from his lowly state to become a leader with true friends is immensely satisfying. Dahl also weaves funny singsong poetry into his fantastical tale, which helps make the book wonderful to read aloud.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how at first the insects inside the peach frighten James, but he quickly learns to see past their unusual looks and makes friends. Also, each of the insects has a particular talent. What is special about each one? Which one is your favorite?
James' aunts are very cruel to him. Kids' books often have villains who are mean to the main character. Why do you think that is? What does it do to the story?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.