James and the Giant Peach

by Roald Dahl

Hardcover, 1961

Call number



Alfred A Knopf


A young boy escapes from two wicked aunts and embarks on a series of adventures with six giant insects he meets inside a giant peach.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
We went and saw the stage version of James and the Giant Peach and it was Emmett's first play! He chortled through the whole thing--the funny parts, the craaazy parts--and then we got ice cream and looked at the murals in Chemainus and he pooped and it was the nicest day.

And it reminded me what a
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stone classic (but freestone or clingstone??) this is: the gooey and not a little bit gross amazement of entering the peach-womb for the first time, to be reborn into a better childhood; the giant bugs with their well-articulated personalities and foibles and wisdom, Socratic crackpots and inhuman guides along the path of human maturation and in a lineage stretching back to Baloo and Bagheera and beyond (you have to take up the human burden eventually, and that's where the animals have to leave you behind); the absolute facility with which Dahl works on two levels--kids' farce and grown-up farce--with the encounter with the Russians and the final descent into a self-parodizing New York; the absolutely on-key mix of the wondrous (those seagulls! the cloud monsters!) and grotesque (if Emmett only wishes periodically that his parents would be killed by a rhinoceros, I think we'll be doing all right) that I think (however we might try to elbow children into fitting our angel- and devil-narratives as they recur and oscillate over the development of the culture) is basically what childhood is.

You never know what kind of kid you're gonna get, and I'm starting to suspect with Emmett too that every time I think I have a handle on it, that'll be just when he does something new to surprise me; but for whatever my feeling's worth in this case, I feel like this book is about as close to a sure thing children's crowdpleaser as there is.
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LibraryThing member stephmo
In Dahl's world, are there ever enough stories about children finding their natural talents in the face of extraordinary circumstances? Absolutely not! And while it's easier to make lessons about a magic peach as appealing as they are to children, the lesson is the same: in times of crisis, we can
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either panic and declare doom or we can stay calm and at least try to think of something that will change the course of our current bad circumstances. And when those circumstances aren't perfect? We continue to persevere until we land. How can you not love or get something out of this - even as an adult?

Honestly, someone's missing the boat not doing corporate seminars on the leadership styles of everyone in James and the Giant Peach. Imagine topics like Being a James Today! or Assessment Day 1 - Are you an Earthworm, Spider, Silkworm, Cricket, Centipede or Gloworm Team Member? (I shudder to think if someone manages to work in the Aunts somehow.) Somewhere along Day 3, I picture a topic on Shattering Rainbows...
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LibraryThing member sunnyd13
It all started for me with this book. I probably read it 10 times in the space of a few months when I was a kid. I couldn't believe how lost you could get without turning on the TV. I want to read it again now!
LibraryThing member the_hag
We do seem to love the story of a child whose life is so miserable that it begs for a magical rescue and an exciting, dangerous and hair raising adventure. In James and the Giant Peach we meet one James Henry Trotter, one of these very same children who like his predecessors and successors (Harry
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Potter, Cinderella, Those Lemony Snickett Children, Hansel & Gretel, ect...) is leading a desperate and miserable life with is two wicked aunts...his parents were eaten by a wild, rampaging rhinoceros (naturally). On one particularly bad day, Henry hides behind some bushes and meets a strange old man who gives him some magic crystals (green glowing pellet things), which he is supposed to drink (mixed with water and ten of his own hairs), but of course he promptly trips and spills them on the ground under an ancient and withered peach tree.

James is crushed when the crystals wiggle into the ground and are lost forever (or so he thinks)...but as with all magic, that's not the end of the story....it is merely the beginning. Shortly thereafter, the tree grows the most enormous peach ever and the aunts are in the green, selling admission to the general public...but that money and fame doesn't make them any nicer and James winds up locked outside, where he discovers a hidden tunnel to the center of the peach! Luckily for him the crystals have made quite the team for him to embark on an adventure with...the cantankerous Worm, the pest of a centipede, the wonderful Ms. Spider, the loveable lady bug, a glow worm, a silk worm, and an old grasshopper! In short order, the free the giant peach from its branch, roll over the aunts and are on the way to a whole big adventure!

Dahl is always a treat, and his books stand up to the test of time...kids always seem to love a good evil guardian gets what they deserve while the miserable child gets to shine for the good hearted, hero he is and have a grand adventure too! You'll have to read the book if you want to find out what happens to James and his gang once the peach gets rolling...you know you want to! James and the Giant Peach is still a strange and twisted tale that is fun for children of all ages! We highly recommend it!
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LibraryThing member tnelson725
James is sent to live with his two mean aunts after his parents are eaten by rhinos. After three years with his aunts, James meets a mysterious, older man who gives him a bag that is full of magic things. On his way home, he is so excited that he trips and spills everything that is in the bag
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underneath a peach tree. Pretty soon a peach starts growing bigger and bigger until it is the size of the house. The aunts start charging admission and James is forced to pick up litter after people leave. One night he sees a whole in the side of the peach and he follows the tunnel until he finds insects who are overgrown because they ate the magic crystals also. The peach rolls of and James and his friends have several adventures, in the end the peach rolls over and squashes the aunts.

I think that this is a fun tale that most children will enjoy. I know I enjoyed it when I was little, it was one of my favorites. It is just a fun, simple read that kids will want to read over and over.

I would use this book to teach children about Venn diagrams. They could make a Venn diagram comparing the two aunts, the difference between a peach and a nectarine, ect. They would also learn the difference between a bug and an insect and then they will make a chart listing the bugs and insects in the book and stating which are which.
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LibraryThing member TakeItOrLeaveIt
my dad read this to me. and I read it by myself in 3rd grade. I like it, but I don't love it. Roald Dahl was a sex author and then became this brilliant kids story teller. what got into the guy? he was brilliant in a really interesting way.
LibraryThing member alcrivello
A boy who travels around in a giant peach, makes friends, and has many adventures. A fantastic story.
LibraryThing member VVilliam
A fun read to practice some Spanish.
LibraryThing member shmuffin
I once wrote a five page review of this book in fifth grade because I was so in love with it. The fantasy, characters, and adventures in this book are phenomenal and captivate minds both young and old. I will be sure to pass this one on to my son when he is old enough to read.
LibraryThing member chron002
James Henry Trotter looses his parents in a rhino accident and lives with his two aunts. Finding the peach changes his life. This might be a good book for a child who has also lost a parent. Great for 2nd or 3rd grade.
LibraryThing member sturlington
This was one of my favorite novels as a child. I was captivated by the completely absurd idea of a gigantic peach populated by talking insects traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. I recently listened to the audio version, read by Roald Dahl, with my young son. It was an abridged version, but just
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as delightful. I had forgotten all the poetry in the book, and Dahl's reading of it is wonderful, especially when he forces the rhymes just a little bit. This book deserves to be a classic.
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LibraryThing member StormRaven
James and the Giant Peach is a classic story for children, and is well-deserving of that status. As with many of Dahl's protagonists, James is an English child who has had an unfortunate life. After his parents die in a car wreck, James is shipped off to live with his cruel and uncaring Aunts, who
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in turns abuse and exploit him.

James' life changes when a strange little man gives him a bag full of magic. Unfortunately, James accidentally drops the bag under the lone peach tree in his Aunts' garden, apparently losing the magic. Miraculously, the tree, which had never before produced fruit, sprouts a giant peach, which his Aunts immediately try to exploit for profit. James sneaks into the peach, and finds that several friendly insects and worms from the garden have also been transformed by the magic into personable companions.

The odd crew of the peach then set out on an adventure (killing his vile Aunts in the process) ending up on first and ocean voyage, and then an airborne one suspended from hundreds of seagulls. They run across the cloud giants who make the weather, and finally end up in New York, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean. James and his vermin friends are welcomed to the city, and, in a turn odd for a Dahl story, live happily ever after with no negative ramifications from their experiences.

This story lacks the dark elements of many Dahl stories, which I think makes it a lesser work than some of his other efforts. However, it still has the strange and wondrous elements that make Dahl's stories so good. This would be an excellent choice to serve as a child's first introduction to Dahl's work.
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LibraryThing member lrummy
This is a great book to launch your enthusiasm for Roald Dahl books. His character development in this story is unmatched. The adventure of James and his giant peach is beyond the ordinary everyday fantasy tale. It stretches further than just the simple text. It creates a world for the reader that
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they would have never imagined before.
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LibraryThing member TeacherLibrarian
Dahl Roald. James and the Giant Peach. (1961). New York: Knopf.

One day lonely orphan James Henry Trotter, who is living in the country with his horrible aunts, meets and old man who recognizes that he’s miserable. The old man gives him a bag of holding a bunch of magic green crystal-like things.
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James accidentally drops them near the roots of an old peach tree, and they wiggle under the soil. Soon a peach appears on the tree and starts growing until it is bigger than a house. That night James goes inside the peach and finds several insects as large as he is. They’re friends with each other and know him and welcome him as part of their group. The peach rolls down the hill to the sea. Sharks attack the peach so James figures out how the insects can work together to harness hundreds of seagulls to the spider’s silk thread and float above the ocean. Together the group has fantastic adventures together, as each member of the group shows he or she has their own particular talents and abilities. Eventually, they float all the way across the Atlantic and land in New York.

This book in a n excellent example of a fantast book. There is very detailed description in everything. The book starts out with events seeming ordinary and realistic, and then it moves into ists fantasy elements quickly. The people who see the giant peach and insets throughout the story are all amazed at them, reflecting the reader’s disbelief, but they them cheerfully and wholeheartedly accept these fantastical elements – and the reader does as well. The plot is creative and internally consistent. Finally, the characters are described in detail, and they consistently retain these characteristics. This is a creative and fun book that 3rd to 5th grade students can read and appreciate.
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LibraryThing member goldstars
Summary- James Henry Trotter was a normal happy boy until his parents were gobbled up by a rhinoceros when he was four. James moves in with his horrible Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. The aunts never allow James to have any fun and obviously dislike the poor boy. James' luck changes one day when an
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old man hands him a bag of magic worm-like creatures. James drops the bag and the creatures burrow into the ground. The magical worms make a normal peach grow humongous and normal size insects grow enormous. The group of insects become friends with James and set sail on remarkable adventures, but not before it rolls over the horrible aunts, killing them both. James and the insects have many fun times together but also experience several dangerous situations.
Opinion- I loved this book. I have read other Roald Dahl books and this one is just as wonderful as the others. I love how Roal Dahl teaches lessons in his stories and provides information that children can relate to. The book is full of adventure and very funny situations. I think my students would love hearing this book and I plan to read it to them this school year.
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LibraryThing member afrazier13
James and the giant peach is about a young boy who has terrible guardians that he cant get along with. So he finds a giant peach and ends up making friends with bugs who live inside it. He can talk to them and they can talk back and they take him on an adventure of a lifetime to NYC. He discovers
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how much more there is to life and that friends come in all forms.

My personal reaction to the book was that there was very good use of imagery to picture the story all taking place inside a giant peach. And that it was a feel good book that made me excited and happy for this boy to have this experience.

the children could take a field trip to collect some peaches to see what they look like in real life.
The children could do experiment in the class and grow peaches to see how big they get, or dissect a peach to see what is inside it.
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LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
James is a lonely orphaned boy who lives with his cruel aunts at the top of desolate hill with no friends or other children in sight. One day a strange man appears on the edge of the property and offers Henry a paper sack full of magical green things, which will give the recipient power. In his
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excitement, James drops the bag and the magic goes into a peach tree, which grows a giant peach populated with gigantic insects. James and his new-found insect friends go on adventure after adventure when the peach rolls down the hill and takes them across treacherous and exciting routes.

I decided to pick this book for two reasons:

1) I was hosting a 1960s themed party and wanted to have books from the sixties for the kids at the party to read if they felt so inclined.
2) Although I've seen both Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movies as well as Matilda, I've never actually read any Roald Dahl's books in their entirety, just one pop-up book adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So I thought it was past time to finally read one.

This book was humorous and full of adventure and is definitely a quick, light read as a result. There are some things in the book that I feel wouldn't be considered as acceptable for children's literature if this were written today -- such as a young boy accepting magic pills from a strange man lurking in the shadows and lots of adult deaths treated rather flippantly -- but it's not overwhelmingly inappropriate. Likewise, I'd expect a book written in the 60s by a man to have a lot of issues regarding gender and while there's a few traditional gender roles depicted here and there (e.g., the Cloud Men go off to work on the weather while the Cloud Women stay home and cook the men dinner), the book actually does a decent job of splitting the main characters evenly between male and female without the female characters being stereotypes (i.e., James has four female insect friends and three male insect friends, with all the insects being helpful in sticky situations by using their unique talents).

One of the things that I personally had a tiny gripe with as an adult reader is that the book is of course a fantasy - hello, magical green things, peaches large enough to break down fences, talking insects, Cloud Men, etc. - but there were times when Dahl threw in some actual factual information, particularly regarding the insects and their various features and abilities. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I felt like young children could come away from this book confused about what's real and what isn't. Hopefully, I'm wrong and kids would be able to easily distinguish the wildly fantastic from the everyday, but they might need a parent who reads this along with them (either aloud or in parallel) to help them make those distinctions.

The edition I had was a re-release from the 1990s featuring illustrations by Lane Smith. These were a nice addition that add to the book by giving kids a view visuals to work with while reading along. The black-and-white illustrations are minimalistic but animated enough to add a dash of extra fun to the story.
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LibraryThing member quicksilvertears
A child's imagination is flooded with adventure in this exciting fanciful book. I remember reading this book as a child and I could almost taste the sweet peach and feel the juices flowing down my arms with James. I loved the centipede and disliked the earthworm. As an adult, I find the interaction
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between these two characters my favorite parts of the book.
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LibraryThing member Junep
Grade 3-6-. James Henry Trotter, a poor orphan, is being raised by two horrible aunts. Magic crystals change his humdrum existence, and soon he is off on a great adventure on a giant peach with new friends who are, to say the least, unique. There are sharks, seagulls, and irate cloud people to add
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interest along the way and, of course, Dahl's irreverent poetry. The story has always been a crowd-pleaser. Fans of Dahl will not be disappointed in this briskly paced tale that is a delight from beginning to end
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LibraryThing member jeffome
Silly, silly, silly....& FUN, FUN, FUN!!!! Orphan James unexpectedly finds himself on a magical adventure relieving him of his dreadful existence with 2 awful aunts and allowing him to start a whole new life. Brilliant little children's book that makes young James the hero.....lots of cleverness
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ensues, mostly the result of James as he and his unlikely travel mates conquer their fears through teamwork, respect for differences and just plain fun. Dahl is truly unique.....there is always a touch of dark over in the corner....it does not dominate, but it is always there. Totally enjoyed this!
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LibraryThing member woodge
This book was first read to me back in third grade. I read it myself ten years ago and then read it aloud to Luke over the past week and a half for a bedtime tale. I had forgotten all about the Cloud-Men but remembered the rest of it well enough. Luke loved it. This is the fourth chapter book I've
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read to him since the end of May and I'm pretty jazzed by how much he enjoys stories. After finishing this classic (with his ears glued to every word) he said to me, "I want another chapter book!" (I've got a few in mind for the next read-aloud. Some newer tales.)
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LibraryThing member BJK1903
It's a very interesting story because it has lots of creativity in it (characters, plot etc.).
LibraryThing member rpanek
This is a story about young boy named James who loses both of his parents. He is sent to live with his aunts, who treat him very badly. Then one day James drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start happening. Students will find this book funny, enjoyable, and
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heart-warming. Great fantasy story.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
When forced to live with awful adults, it is only natural to wish for some kind of escape. James gets his escape in a big way. Pluses to this story include the cleverness with which James meets his various challenges, and a positive light cast on bugs and creepy crawly things.
LibraryThing member thelittlebookworm
After his parent's are killed by a charging rhinoceros, James goes to live with his two detestable aunts. They beat him and treat him horribly. One day he meets an old man who gives him some magic things to make his life better but James trips and loses them. The next day, the old peach tree grow a
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giant peach and James' adventure begins as he rolls away in the giant peach with the company of some giant insects.

I'm a big Roald Dahl fan but oddly I'd never read James and the Giant Peach before. It was cute and had some nice insect lessons. The aunts are typical Dahl adults, abusive and stupid and they get theirs in the end (they are crushed by the giant peach). They weren't really in the book that long. It was a pretty straightforward adventure after that with a message about the usefulness of bugs. James and his friends encounter sharks and escape by tying a bunch of seagulls with webbing and flying off. Then they are attacked by "cloudmen" and escape from them and then get stuck on the Empire State Building in New York. I liked it although it's not my favorite Dahl book. I still like Matilda the best.
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