When I first read James and the Giant Peach as little guy, I feel like I may have missed/misunderstood alot of Dahl's humor and aesthetic. Upon approaching it as an adult, I found a sort of Dickensian charm mixed with a little of Tim Burton's macabre imagery.
Honestly, in the 115 years that have elapsed since the first time I read it, I forgot a lot about the story. I remembered James and the peach (of course), and his awful aunts, but not much else. While reading this time I paid close attention to the habits and demeanor of the insects; perhaps looking for some kind of correlation or symbols? idk.
The grasshopper takes on the role of James's father. The centipede seems friendly and jubilant, clearly James' best bug friend, possibly a brother. The earthworm is pessimistic and bleak; but also sacrifices himself to save the peach and it's inhabitants. The ladybug could have been a symbol of good luck? I still can't figure out the significance of the 9 spots. The spider and the silkworm are the work-horses of the entire operation, busily creating the strings needed to "lasso" the seagulls.
The bugs create a nurturing and diverse environment for James to grow; a family. In the wake of his parent's tragic (but kind of funny) death, James is still able to reap the benefits of kinship during his journey. Roald Dahl's "it takes a village" theme did not go unnoticed this time!
Re-reading kid-lit with an adult perspective really is rewarding! I'm so glad Pip chose this book as the first installment of the retro-readers club!
You should join us!: