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Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach is all around a wild adventure. The children's novel was published in 1961 by Alfred Knopf. This novel is on the American Library Association's top 100 most challenged books at number 56. Roald Dahl was nothing more than proud of this tale. He liked how raw and intriguing it was. The amount of wit used in this story is mind blowing because every insect plays their own special role. Dahl's fairytale is original and there has not been another remake story written off of it. Disney tried very hard to get Roald to allow them to make an animated film out of James and the Giant Peach. Roald shut them down on several occasions until the day he died. After his death in 1990, his wife (now widow), signed off to have the fairytale transformed into a film. On April 12th, 1996, Disney released James and The Giant Peach to the big screen. The movie was directed by Henry Selick and produced by Tim Burton, two of the most well known in the movie industry well known for their 1993 work called The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Roald Dahl is profoundly the best children book writer ever. His imagination and wit will blow you away. In James and the Giant Peach, Dahl will show you true compassion. He will show you that being unique is crucial. A real friend will like you for you. This tale walks you through many anxieties of everyday life but the prominent one is making friends. James is a lonely kid who gets treated like an animal. Of course he is going to feel nothing but anxiety but James gets past that and makes friends with all the insects. A person who has had a terrible childhood can persevere through the pain and make it to a better place. Dahl also shows us that the only way to overcome your fears is to face them. Lastly, Dahl explores how this world is not a fair place. Terrible things happen but you have to embrace that because there are also amazing things such as true friendship which James achieves at the end of the story. I am not sure if Dahl studied psychology but he has some of the deepest views on life. He had a complete grasp of the human psyche and how to make his imagination explode with color.
James with all his insect friends
James with all his insect friends

The main character in the story is James Henry Trotter from Britain. James has a great four year old life until his parents are killed by a rhino that escaped from the zoo in London. James is then sent to live with his two miserable aunts named Sponge and Spiker. James has a horrible life with is aunts and is treated horribly. James' whole life takes a turn when he is crying in the garden one day. He stumbles across this mysterious wise man and that man (unnamed) gives James a sack of magic potion. The magic potion is meant to bring James happiness and fun. James, being a clumsy kid, trips on his way back to the house and spills the potion on the peach tree which had never given fruit before. The peach begins growing larger than the tree. James soon climbs into the peach where he meets his human-like insect friends who grew enormous with the potion as well. The insects consist of the Centipede, the Old Green Grasshopper, the Ladybird, the Glowworm, the Earthworm, Miss Spider, and the Silkworm. The insects help James with all the work his aunts make him do but they also aid him in his escape. The Centipede bites the peach off of the tree and James and the insects take off down the hill. The peach runs squishes the terrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge, and continues to roll down through the down. Roald Dahl is said to have mentioned Charlie and The Chocolate Factory in this part of James and the Giant Peach but he has never clarified this. He did not have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory published until three years after this book was written. In the town the peach rolls through "a famous chocolate factory" and then falls off a cliff and later float out into the Atlantic Ocean. When they are in the ocean they are attacked by sharks but the insects put their wits to work and a flock of seagulls swoops down and takes the whole peach away. They fly through the night and are later attacked by the "Cloud-Men" they leave the peach mangled by setting up a rainbow wall that the peach crashes into. One freed seagull escapes his silk and carries the cloud-Men away because clouds are light and weightless. The seagulls continue to carry the peach to New York City. Everyone thinks it is a nuclear bomb approaching and the whole city prepares for attack (book was written during the Cold War so that is why there is a nuclear reference). A jet flies between the seagulls and the peach, severing the silk strings. The peach falls and gets stuck on top of the Empire State Building. James emerges from the peach and after an explanation, he and the insects are seen as heroes. James now has all of the friends he can ever imagine. The insects all make a living in the human world doing interesting things. James goes on to live happily ever after in his peach mansion in Central Park.

  • James Henry Trotter - The protagonist of the book, James is a seven-year-old orphaned boy who is forced into the care of his repulsive and abusive aunts, Spiker and Sponge, after his parents are killed by a rhinoceros. He wants nothing more than to have friends and be happy, which his aunts deny him. James sees this as far worse than any abuse they give him. His wish is eventually granted, however, in the form of the magical, anthropomorphic insects he meets in the giant peach. By the end of his adventure, he gets more than he wished for in the form of millions of friends in New York City.
  • The Old Man - A friendly yet mysterious wizard who is only seen once, yet is ultimately behind all of magical occurrences in the book, and also starts the adventure when he gives James a bag full of magical gems. It is these magical items which enchant the giant peach and its insect inhabitants, allowing James to begin his surreal journey and escape his evil aunts in the process. The wizard is not seen again after his encounter with James.
  • Aunt Spiker - A dominating, cruel, malicious, and repulsive lady, who finds pleasure in manipulating and tormenting James, who she sees as nothing more than a slave. Spiker is described as tall and thin with steel glasses.
  • Aunt Sponge - A lazy, greedy, selfish, and morbidly fat woman, and equally as cruel and repulsive as her sister Spiker.
  • The Centipede - An anthropomorphic male centipede , depicted as a boisterous rascal with a good heart, he is perhaps James' closest friend among the insects, taking an almost brotherly role to the boy. He is generally optimistic and even brave yet also loud-mouthed and rash, which gets himself and his companions into some bad situations, but his powerful jaws also save them on a few occasions. It was the Centipede who set the peach in motion by biting through the stem which connected it to the peach tree. The Centipede has an ego for many things including being the only actual pest of the group and his number of legs (he claims to have a hundred, but as his nemesis the Earthworm points out, he actually has only forty-two).
  • The Earthworm - An anthropomorphic male earthworm who is more or less enemies with the Centipede, with whom he frequently argues. The Earthworm is depicted as a much less physical character than the Centipede, and with a much more bleak and pessimistic outlook which causes much of the trouble between him and the more jovial Centipede. The Earthworm is paranoid and is terrified of birds. He is also blind (having no eyes, like any earthworm), and often imagines that things are worse than they really are. The Earthworm does however become an unwitting hero when he saves himself and the other inhabitants of the peach.
  • The Old Green Grasshopper - An anthropomorphic male grasshopper, his personality has aspects of both the Centipede and the Earthworm, although he is generally more sophisticated.
  • The Ladybird - A good-natured, motherly anthropomorphic female ladybird who takes care of James as if he were her son. She explains that the more black spots a ladybird has on the red shell, the more respectable and intelligent they are, and having nine spots, she is therefore very respectable and intelligent.
  • Miss Spider - An anthropomorphic female spider not unlike the Ladybird in personality and generally friendly and decent in manner, described by Dahl as having "a large, black and murderous-looking head, which to a stranger was probably the most terrifying of all". She has particular resentment towards Spiker and Sponge - especially Sponge, who is responsible for the cruel deaths of Miss Spider's father and grandmother. Miss Spider makes hammocks using her webs for the rest of the insects to sleep in.
  • The Glowworm - A six-legged, anthropomorphic female glowworm, she quietly hangs from the ceiling in the hollowed-out stone at the center of the giant peach and provides lighting for the interior of the fruit in the form of a bright green luminance . An incessantly sleepy character, she doesn't speak often and is slow to move.
  • The Silkworm - A female anthropomorphic Silkworm. Often asleep, a possible reference to hibernation, she helps Miss Spider to make ropes for the seagulls.
  • Rhinoceros - A mad rhino that escaped from a zoo and killed James' parents. The film uses the rhino as a recurring theme, mainly a symbol of James' fear and how he overcomes it.
  • Cloud Men - Are minor antagonists, who throw rocks and supplies at the peach after Centipede taunts them.

Movie Trailer


  • Web site - http://www.nancypolette.com/handouts/guide_jamespeach.htm
  • This web site is mainly about the book and the author and even has some vocabulary that was in the book. Also this web site includes anticipation guides, which are a series of statements relating to the book, and whether they agree or disagree with the statements. They also have many activities to do once you have read the book, to help understand it more.

Book Reviews/Movie Analysis:
James and The Giant Peach Movie Analysis
Reviews found at:

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff For Children!!!!!!!!!, November 24, 2007
Geetha Krishnan (Kerala, India) -
This is a great book for children from 4 to 10. I am way past that age but I still enjoyed it. Dahl's style of writing is excellent and the story is quite simple and interesting. All in all, an excellent book and I would recommend anyone with children to buy it.