I read this when I was in Grammar school, but definitely needed a refresher, since I’ve started to confuse the movie with the reading of the book and which is unacceptable to me now. So I’ve decided to continue so I can give a thorough review, which as a child, I wouldn’t have done. James has happy beginnings with his parents, before their accident in London, which surprisingly reminded me of Madagascar in reverse, with it being from a human perspective, which isn’t original at all, but makes the scene more funny and interesting. Anyways, revisiting this book has brought back the memories of the same pictures from the book I read when I was young and it’s also so vividly told, now I remember why it was so dream-like to me as a child. The illustrations being in black and white and sketch-form are as I remember and whilst normally I’d be annoyed, these are comforting and quite delicate in form. They also remind me of Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman sketches due to the eyes being black and scratched out a bit.
James is mistreated by his Aunts, as I remember and physically abused. He is forced to work and imagines the “good old days” with his little friends and having fun with his hobby’s. Unfortunately, James reminisces so hard he begins to get upset, which brings his Aunts unwelcome attention on him to where he is allowed to stop working to cower in some bushes, still upset. This is where he meets a strange old man who gives him a bag of what are described as glowing stones. He gives him good advice and rushes James on his way so he can take advantage of this unique and easy-to-go-wrong opportunity. Quite similar to Charlie and the ticket. Except this “Charlie” is much too young and clumsy to actually make use of this magical gift, at least not in a straight forward fashion. James falls and loses the “bag o’ wisps” and gets sent back to his original task of log-splitting, until one of the Aunts spots the peach growing on their tree. The Aunts take the opportunity in making money off of the monstrous fruit whilst poor James has to sit in his room and watch the perfect time to make friends slowly pass him by to be thrust and locked outside to clean up the mess the people left without even having a meal first.
The other thing which is wonderful about “Peach” are the descriptions of it. They sound so tasty and when James first touches it, how he likens it to a mouse. And of course the buggy creatures interactions with each other were fun to recount. Once James listens to everyone’s first conversation with him, he starts to warm up to the idea of being accepted as one of their group. I also was unaware James gets cussed at by one of the bugs as well, but James is unmoved, so I might as well be too. I must say Dahl certainly was fond of his poems! The peach escapes the Aunts yard by rolling itself away and over the Aunts themselves.
Charlie’s Factory even makes an appearance during the peach’s departure. After a rocky beginning, the peach lands in the ocean. Then to escape some large fish, it’s up to James to get them out of it by getting Silkworm to make some silk and then have a seagull pull them out of there. They miraculously are surrounded by dozens and are now airborne on their way to a new beginning. On the way he learns about his new friends and grows, as hopefully a child would be able to grasp at an early age. When the peach starts to drip, they somehow make it to a city before anything terrible happens, but something crazy does happen with the Empire State Building. Then of course the ending promoting sharing, but is still sweet and not contrived as much as the junk put out lately. The more I read of Dahl, the more I realize how strange, fantastic, and day-dream-y his writing is. I’m glad I finally read through his “best of”. Here’s my review of, Fantastic Mr. Fox.