After the BFG snatches Sophie from her orphanage, she learns a lot about giants and the BFG makes a new friend in this quirky, British romp.
The BFG by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. Puffin Books, 2001 (first published 1982). 199 pages.
When the Big Friendly Giant (BFG) realizes Sophie has seen him at his sweet-dreams-blowing work in the middle of the night, he snatches her from her orphanage to ensure she can’t tell on him. What follows is a wild adventure for Sophie as she’s carried far, far away to the land of the giants. Unfortunately, the other nine giants are big, grotesque creatures who actually eat human “beans” every single night! The BFG, thankfully, finds this repulsive, even though he is forced to subsist on the nasty snozzcumber instead. Together, the BFG and Sophie hatch a clever plan to convince Queen Victoria that giants exist, that the BFG is not meant for a circus side show, and that the stalwart British army can indeed capture nine 50-foot violent giants.
Full of Dahl’s trademark quirkiness, The BFG has been beloved by many for more than thirty years. The BFG has a charming way of speaking that mixes and muddles proper English dreadfully. Children will thoroughly enjoy his funny words and ideas, and they will especially giggle at his “whizpopping” prowess. Dahl is not without dark elements, and The BFG is no exception. Some children may be frightened by the eating habits of the other giants, especially when they eat children, leaving the bones behind. Modern sensibilities may also be offended at Dahl’s racist remarks about other countries (than England), although these are clearly meant to be part of the overall silliness. Dahl raises some interesting discussion points in this book, namely the idea of war and whether humans are really the crazy ones since they kill members of their own species. The BFG claims that humans are the only species that does this; that is not true, and parents will want to remind their children of how the Lord made Creation function in general. It is true, however, that mankind was not originally designed to kill one another, and that this sin is taken very seriously in Scripture. All people are made in God’s image and, as such, have inherent dignity and worth.
Cautions: Violence (giants eating people), Vulgarity (“whizz popping”)
Overall Rating: 4
Categories: Middle grades, Fantasy, Humor, Read Aloud
book cover image from amazon