Monday, June 27, 2016
MMGM: The BFG
Of course, I picked up this title because of the new movie coming out on this week. But also, I wanted to relive a bit of my childhood. Along with the Little House books and Ramona, I devoured anything by Dahl as a kid.
One of the benefits and challenges of having sons in the middle grade age range are that we often share books. So, every time I dove into BFG, it would disappear. So, finally, I did finish it, well after my boys. And though I don’t remember my childhood impressions, I can say that as an adult, I enjoyed it very much.
If you want to revisit this before (or after) you see the new movie, I highly recommend it.
The synopsis (from Amazon):
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, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to 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!
What to love about BFG:
1. A nice giant: I love how Dahl plays against type in all his books, but I especially enjoyed how BFG is a “runt” compared to the other giants and is willing to eat icky snozzcumbers instead of humans. He’s endearing, he’s lovable—ah!
2. Incredible world building: Dahl creates an interesting world that’s a lot like ours. There’s still a queen of England, but giants live in Giant Country, they eat humans, BFG collects dreams, the bubbles in giant soda goes the opposite direction of ours, and so much more. What I love about Dahl is the tinge of magic in all his tales—I think this really appeals to kids.
3. Language and word plays: This was probably my 11-year-old’s favorite part of BFG: the giant doesn’t talk like ordinary humans. As he says, he never went to school. So instead of right and wrong, it’s right and left. And there’s frobscottle and whizpoppers… I have a feeling I’ll be hearing BFG’s words about my house for awhile.
4. The Queen of England! Some of my favorite parts of the book are where the queen appears. She’s unflappable and incredibly calm, even when a giant appears in her window…so like Queen Elizabeth, although we never learn her name.
5. Humor. Dahl’s humor, his way of not taking himself or his characters too seriously, always shines through. Splashes of humor make the scary parts more palatable and fun to read.
Caveat: I thought the book was a little slow going at first, as the world building takes up a huge chunk of the first half. This didn't seem to bother my sons, who really enjoyed that section. For me, the book picked up in the middle, when Sophie and the giant hatch their plan.
What are your favorite Dahl books? Are you going to see the movie?
To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.