I am trying to play serious catch up on my reviews the next few weeks. It’s tricky to write with a baby in my arms most of the time 🙂 Slow and steady wins the race, right? So here I am trying to make a bit of progress on my many reviews.
Today I am excited to review The BFG by Roald Dahl. I grew up reading Roald Dahl novels. And it’s been fun to return to some of my favorites recently (check out my review of Matilda).
I decided to read The BFG because I wanted something light and quick in between WWII novels. And it definitely lived up to my expectations. Rereading it was like experiencing most of it for the first time. I didn’t remember a lot of the details. I actually started The BFG when I was very pregnant, and my husband even read a bit to me when I was in labor!
- Did you know that this book is dedicated to Dahl’s daughter who died of the measles as a child? I think that is so sweet.
- Like other Dahl books, this one is easy to get into and a quick read. I also love the illustrations in my copy.
- I love the connection to the queen of England! I had completely forgotten that she is featured in this novel.
The BFG by Roald Dahl tells the story of Sophie, a girl who is kidnapped by and then befriends the big friendly giant. Goodreads summarizes, “Captured by a giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher, or any of the other giants-rather than the BFG-she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off in England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!”
If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be simple. It boasts a simple story. The characters are simple. And the plot is laid out simply and straightforwardly. Clearly, this is a novel for children but I think it can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
I love the simple characters. Sophie and the BFG are easy to like and to cheer for. Sophie because she is innocent and good. The BFG because he helps others and tries his best, even with all his language blunders. The other giants are also simple, in a different way. I don’t remember them being so yucky and evil (so much talk about eating human beans!), but it works because it’s within a children’s novel context. In another context, it would be more gory. I also love the simple faith of the queen in helping Sophie to stop the man eating giants forever.
The story is also simple and easy to follow. Like many children’s stories, the plot starts from the first page and we get almost nonstop action throughout. Sophie is kidnapped, they go back to giant country, they plan to stop the giants, and they carry out that plan. Simple enough. In some ways the simplicity was surprising. Can they really just go take the giants and throw them in a massive hole? Yes, and the plan works perfectly. I love that about children’s literature–things usually work out quite well.
My favorite elements in the novel are the dreams. I especially enjoy the scenes in the story when they visit dream country and the discussion of dreams between the BFG and Sophie. I love the idea that dreams have different forms and that they can be created. I also found the influence that dreams can have rather compelling. The climax of the novel is based on the assumption that dreams have power. Dreams can influence our thoughts and our actions. I think that gives children a great moral to this story.
The language is hilarious! Only Roald Dahl could produce language that is so ridiculous and so effective. I read some of this book out loud to my husband and we were both laughing at how ridiculous the BFG sounds. Plus it’s amazing you can still understand his meaning even if he’s using made up words and phrases. All his backwards talking and his love for that drink with the bubbles going down (haha!) make the BFG such an endearing character.
A few favorite lines from the mixed up language of the BFG:
I actually didn’t see the new 2016 movie adaptation until after I had reread the book this time. Did you know Steven Spielberg directed it? We watched it last weekend and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Overall, I thought it was true to the essence of the novel. The BFG made me laugh out loud, and I loved the way they depicted his little cave house, especially the dream room. My favorite parts were the scenes with the dreams. They depicted dream country in a neat way and I loved the way they animated the dreams themselves depending on what they were about and if they were good or bad. I had a few issues with some added details and changes (too much action in defeating the giants, the witching hour is called that because no one is awake. Also Sophie isn’t an insomniac!). But overall, it was a fun family movie.
This is a classic. And I think every child should read it. It takes readers on a magical ride through a quintessentially Dahl world with fun characters and a simple story. The ending wraps everything up quickly and neatly. Perhaps a bit more complexity at the end (would it really be so easy to capture 9 flesh eating giants?) would add to the story. Overall, a great book for kids to read and to read out loud!
What are your favorite Roald Dahl novels?