Monday, June 17, 2013


The BFGThe BFG by Roald Dahl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Sophie is carried away from her orphanage one night by a giant, she fears the worst - but the dream-catching, snozzcumber-eating, whizzpopper-producing BFG is quite unlike his child-devouring relatives.

Dahl's books are full of humor that adults find horrifying and children find hilarious. The other giants - with vivid monikers like Fleshlumpeater, Childchewer, and Bloodbottler - are ferocious but only almost as disgusting as the Twits (definitely crueler than the three farmers, though). There are quite a few slyly told fart jokes here, plus jabs at yucky vegetables and foolish adults.

Sophie is an admirable heroine, taking her outlandish adventures in stride. She is a tiny David, bravely plotting to save the people of the world from gluttonous Goliaths. (She's also another British orphan who wears glasses and befriends giants - I sense a theme.)

The BFG is a particularly Dahl-esque character. He's lovable, but odd: "Sophie watched with astonishment. What a strange and moody creature this is, she thought. One moment he is telling me my head is full of squashed flies and the next moment his heart is melting for me because Mrs. Clonkers locks us in the cellar." He also has a unique way of talking - the giant on his usual food: " 'It's disgusterous!' the BFG gurgled. 'It's sickable! It's rotsome! It's maggotwise! Try it yourself, this foulsome snozzcumber!' "

If you're looking for another funny children's classic that makes adults uneasy, check out Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson. For a classic David verses Goliath tale (where Goliath is actually a truck), try The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill.

In closing:
  • Dahl's British sense of humor: "If you can think of anything more terrifying than that happening to you in the middle of the night, then let's hear about it."
  • A butler named Mr. Tibbs who is the equal of Jeeves and whose description is a great vocabulary builder: "A man does not rise to become the Queen's butler unless he is gifted with extraordinary ingenuity, adaptability, versatility, dexterity, cunning, sophistication, sagacity, discretion, and a host of other talents that neither you nor I possess."
  • Cameo by an unflappable Queen Elizabeth! Her nose is distinctly recognizable, thanks to Quentin Blake's always-charming illustrations.

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