|BFG, by Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake|
Written by Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House, 1982
Ages 4-12, Lexile 720L
224 pp, 38000 words
Fantasy, Friendships, Assumptions
Sophie couldn't sleep.
A brilliant moonbeam was slanting through the gap in the curtains. It was shining right on to her pillow.
The other children in the dormitory had been asleep for hours.
Sophie closed her eyes and lay quite still. She tried very hard to doze off.
It was no good. The moon beam was like a silver blade slicing through the room on to her face.
The house was absolutely silent. No voices came up from downstairs. There were no footsteps on the floor above either.
The window behind the curtain was wide open, but nobody was walking on the pavement outside. No cars went by on the street. Not the tiniest sound could be heard anywhere. Sophie had never known such a silence.
Perhaps, Sophie told herself, this was what they called the witching hour.
It may be sacrilegious, but I am not as big a Roald Dahl fan as perhaps I should be. I fell in love with James and the Giant Peach in sixth grade. Honestly, it was decades before I found out it was an excerpt. By the time I read the novel, I had already imagined my own story around the incident and couldn't reconcile the two. I didn't grow up with Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka so that particular book had no pull on me. To me, Danny and his father were the worst kind of heroes.
But BFG was the book which opened the magical door. Suddenly I could hear the music in Dahl's words and gulp in the delightful silliness page after page. The text is so lyrically perfect. The humor, both subtle and absolute. The characters are the kind you want to cuddle and keep in your pocket.
So if you haven't read this book, find a copy and blow off work for the afternoon.
If you 've read it before, dust off your favorite edition and read it again.
Either way, it's whoopsy whiffling.
1. Scholastic posted a sweet little interview with the author on writing, and Viva Veltoro did a fabulous interview with Dahl's daughter, Lucy, specifically about the BFG. Stephanie of Mommy Musings gives her take on the group interview.
2. Lucy's opinion of the movie and mine seem to sync. You can read my book-to-movie comparison on the Summer Drive-In feature from last Friday.
3. For other gentle giants, try Betsy Gould Hearne's South Star series, Ted Hughes's The Iron Man (AKA The Iron Giant), The Twin Giants, by Dick King-Smith, or The Giant Smugglers, by Matt Solomon and Chris Pauls.
|South Star, |
by Betsy Gould Hearne
Cover by Trina Schart Hyman
|The Giant Smugglers, |
by Matt Solomon and Chris Pauls
Cover by Matt Griffin
|Twin Giants, |
by Dick King-Smith
Cover by Mini Grey
|The Iron Man,|
By Ted Hughes
Cover by Andrew Davidson
4. Below are some links to explore other Dahl-ing reviews by fellow MMGM participants.
Brooke on Somewhere in the Middle
Mike from Middle Grade Mafioso
Cait of The Hopeful Heroine
Michael on Middle Grade Mafioso
5. Roald Dahl was a master of wordplay. The OED added six new words to the dictionary last year in his honor. Increase your own vocabulary with the Dahl Dictionary at Wonderful Dahl. Or buy your own Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary from Oxford University Press.
Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!