A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Roald Dahl's The BFG is a delightful fantasy about a girl named Sophie who makes friends with a Big Friendly Giant. It's full of vivid characters and hilariously creative language. The BFG uses an abundance of invented words and inverted idioms ("Am I right or am I left?" "Hopscotchy," "Delumptious," "Whizzpopping") that could be challenging for young independent readers to decipher, but the book makes a great read-aloud. There are some scary and suspenseful moments for little Sophie, and readers learn that the bigger giants eat children, but there's no graphic violence. Alcohol is mentioned a couple of times, but none is consumed "onscreen." One small warning for parents of impressionable children, though: Sophie and the BFG debate the delights and offenses of burping vs. farting, and a couple of scenes when the BFG passes gas are among the funniest in the book. The book does include lots of humor, as well as a brave hero and heroine, and wonderful, unlikely friendships. The BFG was made into an animated film (1989) and a live action/CGI movie (2016) directed by Steven Spielberg.
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What's the story?
Roald Dahl's THE BFG begins late at night when a little orphan girl named Sophie is the only one awake. She goes to the window and sees a giant walking down the street, carrying a suitcase and peering into people's windows. When the giant sees her, he grabs her and takes her back to his cave in Giant Country. Sophie is afraid that she'll be eaten, but her new friend, the Big Friendly Giant, explains in his own sideways version of English that though the other giants in this land are twice his size and eat children all over the world, he eats nothing but disgusting snozzcumbers -- a mythical vegetable.
Sophie also learns all about the ways the BFG captures dreams in Dream Country and secretly blows dreams into people's sleeping heads. One day, Sophie finds out that the other giants are planning to gallop to England, where they'll eat up lots of children. That's when Sophie and the BFG hatch a plan to mobilize Her Majesty the Queen's soldiers to stop the kid-eating giants once and for all.
Is it any good?
This funny fantasy about a girl and a friendly giant has loads of appeal for young readers, from action to wordplay to gross-out humor. Each of the late Roald Dahl's books has a special quality that sets it apart, and in this case, it's silly, smart, hilarious playing with language. The BFG has never been to school, and "sometimes is saying things a little squiggly." Kids who got a laugh out of Willy Wonka's reference to "snozzberries" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will find even more to giggle about here. All of the babblement makes The BFG a delightful book to read out loud. The story also has plenty of suspense (for youngsters) even as it just keeps getting funnier, all the way to the rewarding finish.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the funny things the giant says in The BFG. Do any of them seem familiar? Do you like the way he talks?
What do Sophie and the BFG have in common that helps them become good friends?
Have you read other books by Roald Dahl? What does The BFG have in common with the other Dahl books that you like?
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