...like jellied gnats and dandyprats and earwigs cooked in slime..."
James and the Giant Peach, which turns fifty this year, is my personal favorite among Roald Dahl's books. I love the humor and the so-vivid-you-want-to-argue-with-them characters, of course. I love the scrumdiddlyumptious idea of an aircraft-sized peach, the perfect chaser to all of Charlie's chocolate. I love the poems, most of which can, somewhat aptly, be sung to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme. (You're welcome.)
But I think what really appealed to me when I first encountered the book was that it seemed to be saying, "Why not?" Why not crawl inside the pit of a gargantuan piece of fruit and make friends with the overgrown creepy-crawlies within? Why shouldn't that same peach become a means of escape from your (hilariously) horrible aunts, and then a means of sustenance when that escape goes a bit awry? Why shouldn't a home and friends await every child?
And why shouldn't real kids get in on the fun?
"Now comes," the Centipede declared, "the burden of my speech:" Happy birthday, James Henry Trotter!