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James and the Giant Peach / The Twits

📅 2023-Jan-15 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ book ⬩ 📚 Archive

My kid usually tries to get me to read all the books and comics that he reads. While I try to escape from the seemingly countless number of (mundane) Garfield and Smurfs comics, I genuinely got interested in his Roald Dahl books and I am working my way through them all.

James and the Giant Peach is a title that I had vaguely heard about in US culture. The story here centers around James, an orphaned kid, who escapes his evil aunts when he discovers a magical giant peach in the garden. Along with the ride are a bunch of amicable insects from the garden (spider, ladybug, centipede etc.) who have also grown to a giant size due to the same magic. Their adventures take them on a ride on the ocean, in the sky carried by seagulls, runins with the cloud people and finally come to rest in NYC, where they retire with comfy jobs.

Though written in 1961, for most of the story, I felt like I was reading an old fairytale. The characters are superbly memorable and there are enough surprises to keep even an adult like me engaged through 150 pages. The book is filled with funny rhyming poems for the characters, almost like a musical. And just like in Matilda, there is some real magic in Dahl’s writing that makes everything so special.

The Twits is a much shorter and funny read. It features the dirtiest and most obnoxious couple in the world. They hate each other so much that they revel in playing an endless number of disgusting tricks on each other. They are also training a monkey family imprisoned in their garden by torturing them. The monkeys’ respite arrives in the form of a foreign bird that visits the garden, who teams up with them to give the twits a taste of their own medicine.

Both the books have the original illustrations from Quentin Blake. By now I am assuming he is the defacto artist for Dahl’s books. His pictures are iconic, and it is the faces and scenes he draws that are etched in my mind when I’m reading the stories.

Rating: 4/4

© 2023 Ashwin Nanjappa • All writing under CC BY-SA license • 🐘📧