Book Review: “James and the Giant Peach”

Cover of "James and the Giant Peach"

Cover of James and the Giant Peach

“James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fantasy

Source: Gift

Summary from Goodreads:

When poor James Henry Trotter loses his parents in a horrible rhinoceros accident, he is forced to live with his two wicked aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. After three years he becomes “the saddest and loneliest boy you could find.” Then one day, a wizened old man in a dark-green suit gives James a bag of magic crystals that promise to reverse his misery forever. When James accidentally spills the crystals on his aunts’ withered peach tree, he sets the adventure in motion. From the old tree a single peach grows, and grows, and grows some more, until finally James climbs inside the giant fruit and rolls away from his despicable aunts to a whole new life. James befriends an assortment of hilarious characters, including Grasshopper, Earthworm, Miss Spider, and Centipede–each with his or her own song to sing. Roald Dahl’s rich imagery and amusing characters ensure that parents will not tire of reading this classic aloud, which they will no doubt be called to do over and over again!


Confession time. I’ve been really apprehensive about reading this book for quite a while. I always enjoyed Dahl’s books as a kid but this one I stayed away from. The problem was the movie. I was fairly young when it came out and for whatever reason it really scared me. Maybe it was the style of animation? Tim Burton’s touch was maybe a bit too much for a 7 year old? I don’t know but it freaked me out. It freaked me out enough for it to remain with me until I was old enough to not be scared of it any more. By extension, I guess I was scared of the book as well. Since I now owned the book, I guess it was time to get over my ‘fear.’

The book was okay. I didn’t hate it but it certainly didn’t wow or amaze me either. I get that horrible adults are Dahl’s “thing” but it’s starting to feel like a crutch. Why can’t we have a occasional ‘good’ adult? I kind of found the story to be a bit boring. I wasn’t glued to the book which was why it took me a lot longer to finish the book than it should have. To me, it didn’t have the magic or lovableness of Dahl’s other books.

I didn’t really like the characters. I’ve said it before but to me bugs aren’t very unlikable.You need to wow the pants off of me to make me love them. Dahl unfortunately wasn’t able to make me the love the characters. The Centipede constantly whining about his shoes was beyond annoying. I kind of wanted them to throw him overboard. And the singing? I didn’t like it. It was way too frequent for my taste and to be honest I skipped over most of it.

The bottom line? Perhaps the idea of the movie left a bad taste in my mouth but I wasn’t too wild about this book.

This book was read as a part of my Roald Dahl Challenge.

Feel free to join in!







10 thoughts on “Book Review: “James and the Giant Peach”

  1. The book is kind of odd for Dahl I think. While it has the obvious grotesque and strange things he always has in his books, it’s still a bit….off. I wonder why. I kind of want to research what was going on in his life during the writing of this book just to get a better feel of where he was coming from.

  2. I am pretty sure I have read this one, but I honestly can’t remember any more. I think I used to own it, so it seems logical I read it, but it would have been a long time ago!

  3. Personally, I was a fan of Miss Spider. I do think that Dahl manages to have good adults in other books (the teacher in Matilda, Grandpa Joe, etc.), but he does tend to have a lot of evil, absent, or otherwise dysfunctional parents.

  4. I agree. This book isn’t really anything special compared to other Roald Dahl books, and the movie was just plain freaky and scary. Have you read many other Roald Dahl books? You’ve probably read them, but I recommend both the first and second Charlie and the Chocolate Factory books. They are both very good.

  5. I remember that movie, and being scared because of it. I think I read the book at one point, but I don’t remember much. Perhaps I shoud reread it? But I admit, your review doesn’t really make me want to try.

    • Sorry I turned you off of it! You should defiantely try rereading it. I probably would have enjoyed the book much more if the movie hadn’t scared me as a kid.

  6. James and the Giant Peach was my favorite Roald Dahl book when I was little — but I read it very young. I had almost the exact same experience you had with the J&tGP movie, but with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I saw it when I was four, and it scared me off Roald Dahl for years. James and the Giant Peach was the first one I was brave enough to read. And it was wonderful actually! It’s not my favorite one now, but it was when I was little.

    • I don’t blame you with the Charlie movie. I still find it a bit freaky!

      I guess if I have kids I need to wait until they’re pretty old to see the movies. I would hate for them to be scared of his books.

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