I loved Roald Dahl when I was younger. I fondly remembering checking out James and the Giant Peach from the library and rereading my copy of Matilda. But, for all that I loved Dahl’s works, I surprisingly never read more than a few. I decided to change that recently and used some birthday money to purchase a 15-book set of Dahl’s books. I’m generally on a no-book-buying policy now – small apartments leave little room for expanding libraries – but I make an exception for authors I know and love. Dahl is one of them.
The BFG (1982) contains everything that made me fall in love with Dahl’s writing so long ago. The story is fairly simple and fantastical. A young girl, Sophie, is captured by a giant when he’s out spreading dreams throughout her town at night. Fearful that she will be eaten, Sophie is relieved to find out that he is the Big Friendly Giant, who doesn’t eat “human beans” but “snozzcumbers” and takes to protecting her from the other man-eating giants. The other giants, who travel to countries around the globe, gobbling up countless humans in their wake, make fun of the BFG, who is the runt of the clan and steadfastly adheres to his vegetarian diet. Sophie is so aghast at learning of the giants’ activities, that she hatches a plan to alert the Queen and save humankind.
Where Dahl excels is in his ability to create a seemingly silly, non-sensical story and imbue it with adult themes. When Sophie chastises the BFG for his nonchalant reaction to the other giants’ human eating habits, he responds, “Do not forget that human beans is disappearing everywhere all the time without the giants guzzling them up. Human beans is killing each other much quicker than the giants is doing it… Human beans is the only animals that is killing their own kind.” And when Sophie refuses to believe that the BFG can understand the music emitted from dreams he proclaims, “The matter with human beans is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.” And yet, we have this wonderful creation of words, an ode to imagination and silliness, surrounding some very poignant truths about humankind. If his books are enchanting at a young age, they are vastly more loveable as an adult. That he can stick so well in the minds of his readers is nothing short of amazing.
[Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: read a book originally published in the decade you were born]