knitxcore.: Retro-Readers Review: James and the Giant Peach.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Retro-Readers Review: James and the Giant Peach.


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!:

What are you reading?


Erin Joy said...

That's definitely one of the greats. I can't wait till my boys are big enough to start appreciating stuff like that. I always have The Wind in the Willows on my bedside table, along with The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time and a few others - I find myself going back to them time and time again.

eliza said...

what a fab idea! i used to be in a book group where we read primarily 19th century british ladies' works... been thinking of starting that back up. but maybe i should dabble in some kids books first?

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, James and the Giant Peach was my least favorite, not for the story itself, but because the illustrations weren't by Quentin Blake. I read Matilda when I was 8 or 9 and then went on a tear where I read every Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on. I think James and the Giant Peach was the last one I read (I had to buy it myself instead of getting it from my classroom), and I was used to Blake's drawings.

That said, I love re-reading my favorite books from my childhood. I have been meaning to re-read Lois Lowry's Anastasia Krupnik series for a while.

Sian Lile said...

great review! way more insightful than the one i wrote....

Mandy Ferrugia said...

This book is one of my favorites! I remember reading it for the first time when I was was such a magical experience. Now every time I read it, it kind of make me feel like a little kid again. :]

Sally said...

This is such a fabulous idea. Love it! One of my Dahl favourites is the Twits. Dahl had such an amazing way of describing addictively gruesome things - bone-crunching giants and worm spaghetti! Yes!