Tuesday, December 30, 2008
James and the Giant Peach
I shouldn't be allowed to read classic children's literature. My brain simply doesn't appreciate its intended purpose - creativity, imagination, fantasy. Instead, I wonder, "What's the point here?" Sometimes, there is a point, but I think with Ronald Dahl, the focus is placed on the magic and if there happens to be a story in there somewhere in it..so be it.
I borrowed it from the library because it was on the most-commonly-banned-books-in-America shelf and I wondered how the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory could upset so many modest American readers?
I still don't know. Unless there is some upsetting symbolism that went way over my head and would be sure to go over the head of its intended audience, I don't understand how this book could offend anyone but mean, crusty old aunts who don't love and take care of their orphaned nephews.
That being said, I wish I loved this non-controversial story, but I didn't. I thought it was overly strange. Strange in a did-you-write-this-while-tripped-out-on-LCD? kind of way. Giant talking bugs. Living in a peach. Flying over the Atlantic Ocean with the help of string tied onto 501 seagulls via the giant silkworm and spider. Landing on the needle of the Empire State Building in New York. A ladybug marrying a police man (What the?). O.K then.
James was surrounded by mean, nasty aunts and now he's happy and living in a giant peach in New York City's Central Park. Wildly imaginative but famous through the ages?
To make sure it deserved its fame, I had my eight year old son read it (even though the word a** is in it twice. Why did Dahl do that?) and he liked it. He didn't love it. Not because it was strange but because like most things he reads, the characters are magical and the plot bizarre. For him, it seemed almost standard fare. When he finished, he handed it back to me and I asked, "Did you like it?" "Yeah." That's it. No buzz. No acting out parts of the story and certainly no regurgitating details from it like he does with some of his other books.
I guess we're just a bunch of fuddy-duddies around here because I found nothing extraordinary about James and the Giant Peach except it's eccentricity.