Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Reader's Diary #577- Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake: The BFG

Our third Dahl book together and my daughter and I are now die-hard fans. James and the Giant Peach, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and now the BFG, or as my daughter calls it, my BFF the BFG.

I'm still not sure I could yet declare a favourite Dahl, but I definitely enjoyed parts of this one more than the others, and definitely enjoyed parts less.

For pure silliness, the BFG wins hands down. It's impossible not to be amused by the Big Friendly Giant's speech patterns and mispronounced words:

They would be putting me into a zoo or the bunkumhouse with all those squiggling hippodumplings and crocadowndillies.

(Read it with a bad Cockney accent for extra effect.)

The plot, involving a crew of grotesque giants who steal kids from their beds at night and eat them*, needs ample doses of comedy to offset such violence and Dahl delivers.

But perhaps too well. I suspect that Dahl got a little carried away. Just like with the Bridge to Terabithia which I read recently, it takes about 100 pages or so for the story to go anywhere. Granted, the giants and their lifestyle are wildly interesting, but there's too much sacrificed for all this info and fart jokes and dream sequences. Most notably and regrettably, we never learn much about the BFG's captive, a little girl named Sophie. Without her, there would be no story, yet Dahl has shone almost all his light on the BFG. Does Sophie care that she's been snatched from her home? Is it supposed to go without saying that since she's an orphan, that no, she probably doesn't care? Willie Wonka and Charlie at least got equal air time. Sophie needs a new agent.

But for sheer amusing entertainment, the BFG was a wonderfully fun read.

One question: Do you like Quentin Blake's illustrations? I've never said much about them, because I'm not sure how I feel. They aren't really my taste, but I appreciate they have a distinct style. Still, I'd like to see someone else have a go at one.

*Oddly, this is my second book about a child-eating giant this year.


John Mutford said...

Also reviewed at Ravenous Reader and The Best Little Book Shelf in Texas.

Nan said...

My favorite Dahl, which I hope to read again this year, is Danny The Champion of the World. I'm also quite fond of the Witches, both the book and movie. I didn't care so much for Peach or WW.

Wanda said...

"Just one more chapter, Mommy! Please, PLEASE ..."

That's the song my eldest would sing every time we read a Dahl together. Her favourite is still The Witches.

Roald Dahl fan said...

Personally I love the Quentin Blake illustrations - the way he expresses movement is fantastic.