James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

I found a copy of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl in a Little Free Library and read it to the boys this summer. While there’s no doubt that Dahl is an excellent writer with great control on the sentence level and wonderful descriptions, I was struck by the antiquated fatphobic language and some other negativity in the book that you don’t see in new children’s publications and that, honestly, I do not miss. The plot is fine, but I found myself hoping for some deeper meaning and purpose in the adventure, some deeper symbolism in it all. I found very little. Instead, Dahl takes readers on a simple, uncomplicated adventure, but one with plenty of antics, wordplay, and vivid description. It’s worth the read for those alone. I also see that there’s a 2010 movie, so maybe we’ll check that out this summer too.

Our “used” copy, now even more tattered.

Reader, as you know by now, James and the Giant Peach is “not my genre,” but it is a classic, and I’m glad we read it. I might try it again in a few years when the boys are older and have a better understanding, but likely there will be many other favorites old and new to read. The littlest one lost interest several times this time around. However, it is the longest book we’ve read so far, and, overall, the boys tolerated it well. I am hopeful for our journey into longer (still illustrated) chapter books. Reading books to the boys is one of my greatest daily joys in parenting. It’s something we all truly enjoy and can share, and I look forward to reading many more classics together!

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