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WIHWT: Just peachy.

James and the Giant Peach

Today we had a special assembly and focus put together by the PE Department, “Wellness Day.”  The various content area teachers provided our support by creating lessons around healthy nutrition, etc.

Well, as important as all that is, my own take was to have students start to think about how food is used by writers in stories, and immediately thought of James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I love the movie adaptation, done by the same stop-motion animator who did Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas, Henry Selick.

In researching a quote from the book (my copy is at home, safe and sound), I came across this Wikipedia entry:

James and the Giant Peach is a popular children’s novel written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl. The original first edition published by Alfred Knopf featured illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. However, there have been various reillustrated versions of it over the years, done by Michael Simeon for the first British edition, Emma Chichester Clark, Lane Smith and Quentin Blake. It was adapted into a film of the same name in 1996. The plot centers on a young English orphan boy who enters a gigantic, magical peach, and has a wild and surreal cross-world adventure with six anthropomorphic insects he meets within the giant peach. Originally titled James and the Giant Cherry, Dahl changed it to James and the Giant Peach because a peach is “prettier, bigger and squishier” than a cherry.[1][2]

Because of the story’s occasional macabre and potentially frightening content, it has become a regular target of the censors and is no. 56 on the American Library Association‘s top 100 list of most frequently challenged books.[3]


Deep breath. Deeeeeeep……breath.

But who in their right or otherwise mind would challenge this book?

Roald Dahl was a brilliant writer. His stories are sublime modern-aged fairy tales that expose the terrors and horrors of childhood. Children are in danger, all the time, in great peril caused by forces beyond their control.

So, to those of you who challenge these sorts of books, would you please consider this: do something else. Stop war. Be peaceful. Think. Make sure children don’t get hurt or exploited. Adhere to your moral compass. Don’t embrace ignorance, but choose love and knowledge.

Now – back to literary analysis. The peach may symbolize motherhood, nurturing, warmth, and love. Roald Dahl didn’t choose a peach by accident. It’s not James and the Giant Orange, or Apple, did he? (Although I think a kiwi would work.)

Think about food in stories. It will nourish you well.

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Roald Dahl was inspired by a chocolate factory….

See Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday




of Roald Dahl, (books by this author) born in Llandaff, South Wales (1916). He was sent off to private boarding schools as a kid, which he hated except for the chocolates, Cadbury chocolates. The Cadbury chocolate company had chosen his school as a focus group for new candies they were developing. Every so often, a plain gray cardboard box was issued to each child, filled with 11 chocolate bars. It was the children’s task to rate the candy, and Dahl took his job very seriously. About one of the sample candy bars, he wrote, “Too subtle for the common palate.” He later said that the experience got him thinking about candy as something manufactured in a factory, and he spent a lot of time imagining what a candy factory might be like. Today, he’s best known for his children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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Towns and Cities We Love…

Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, September 2008 

My husband and I went on an anniversary trip to San Francisco. One of the prettiest places was Ghirardelli Square, and it was chocolate land! It smelled good, and there was a really beautiful mermaid sculpture.

I had one of the best chocolate shakes I’ve ever had — it was smooth, creamy, and truly chocolaty. I wonder if Roald Dahl got inspired to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory based on a real candy maker.