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And it’s nice to see the others get their happy endings too—almost all involving employment, I note, and I don’t think we want to think too hard about the one exception: the Ladybug who marries into the Fire Department.In fact let’s all try very hard not to think about this at all.The story begins in the very real city of London and the shores of England, and ends in a very real location: New York City, and more precisely, the Empire State Building and Central Park.
(Allow me at this point to commend the New York City Police department for acting very calmly, under the circumstances.) But for someone with no real goals, James does triumphantly manage his happy ending.
Although, young readers should note that I have been reliably informed by the Office of Mayor Bloomberg that placing enormous peaches, magical or otherwise, on the top of the Empire State Building is Highly Illegal and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and certainly not allowed to live inside a peach pit given a place of honor in New York City afterwards. Do something else with your magical green crystally things.
I also like that the most helpful and active of the insects tend to be the women: Miss Spider not only spins comfortable beds, but can also scout out the condition of the peach.
Meanwhile, the loudest complainers are the men—the Earthworm and the Centipede, though the Wise Old Grasshopper provides moral support.
The book also has some laugh out loud funny moments, although I must say, as an adult, that it is not as funny as I remember; I think you have to be seven to enjoy some parts of this book.
The nonsense verse sprinkled throughout the book is also delightful, even if it contradicts much of what the book says, and even if some of it, specifically James’ poem at the end of the book, contains a somewhat unlikely vocabulary for the speaker.
It’s a fairy tale, sure, and a silly one and funny one at that, but certainly satisfying.
This time around, we read the book James and the Giant Peach written by Roald Dahl who is an English author.
The insects (and spider) the seeds affect turn out to be remarkably like the helpers or companions in so many fairy tales, although Dahl does work to give each insect a distinct personality, shaped by the insect’s name or ecological function.
And, as in “Jack in the Beanstalk,” James finds himself encountering monsters in the clouds.