Roald Dahl, author
Quentin Blake, illustrator
This edition -
publisher: Puffin Books
release date: August 16, 2007
I'll admit that this is not what I thought I'd be reading this year but I needed a banned or challenged book and James and the Giant Peach is short ;-) The book may have been banned from school and/or public libraries across the USA but as of July 18, Amazon.com's sales rank is 2,268. It is #1 when looking for Roald Dahl and #52 in humorous children's books. How can this be? When books are removed from libraries parents must buy them.
James and the Giant Peach starts by telling us how wonderful James’ life was by the sea. He "lived peacefully with his mother and father in a beautiful house beside the sea. There were always plenty of other children for him to play with...It was the perfect life for a small boy."
When he was four, his parents went shopping in London were they were “eaten by an enormous angry rhinoceros which had escaped from the London Zoo”. Eaten mind you, not just killed. Leaving him to be sent to live with his aunts. So James becomes the drudge. Two aunts, many chores, no children to play with, very little play time, no toys, no leaving the garden, sometimes no food. And he meets a man with magic. And the songs?
A Gnu and a Gnocerous surely you'll see
And that gnormous and gnorrible Gnat
Whose sting when it stings you goes in at the knee
and comes out through the top of your hat.
Yes, I can see where people would complain, it sounds just like a Disney movie. (by the way, that was sarcasm)
Mr. Dahl's first stories were written for his own children. Can you see him in a comfortable chair with his children and maybe a neighbor or two sitting on the floor in front of him? I'm sure he slapped his hands on the chair and bounced, just a bit, when the peach ran over James' aunts leaving them "ironned out upon the grass as flat and thin and lifeless as a couple of paper dolls cut out of a picture book."
Mr. Dahl died in 1990. The edition that I have was published in 2007. That is the extent of his popularity. May it live on forever.
My post also has a bit of a rant on censorship and a list of Puffin Books by Roald Dahl. I'm sure you'll see some favorites.
He also wrote adult novels, the only one I own is My Uncle Oswald, picked up because of the cover (legs!) and purchased because I thought it would be funny - "Uncle Oswald makes Casanova look like Winnie the Pooh"