When it comes to authors of children’s books, Roald Dahl is a literary GIANT – being 6ft 6” (1.98 meters) tall and selling over 250 million books worldwide. During his lifetime he delighted children and adults alike for decades with his tales featuring lots of dark humour and wit. His scrumdiddliumtious stories are still delighting readers today, young and old, long after his death in 1990.
In 1982, Dahl published The BFG (aka The Big Friendly Giant) as a full children’s novel. The original short story was told as a bedtime story in Dahl’s 1975 children’s book Danny, Champion of the World.
The BFG is a tale of one big friendly giant, nine man-eating giants and one of friendship.
Sophie, an orphaned eight-year-old girl, lives in a home with several other girls. When one night she cannot sleep, despite the orders of the cruel disciplinarian orphanage owner Mrs Clonkers, she gets out of bed and looks out of the window over the deserted London streets. London looks so different at the dead of night. But night-time is for sleeping, especially for young children, the witching hour is no time for people to be awake. Things come out at night that humans have no business seeing and Sophie sees something she shouldn’t! Something that nobody should witness. A 24ft giant of a man, a strange looking man who is the owner of a wrinkly face, enormous ears and a dark cloak. He is wandering around the streets of London carrying a suitcase and a trumpet! It that wasn’t odd enough, occasionally he stops to look in the upstairs windows of the quiet houses, taking something out of his suitcase and blowing something using the trumpet into the bedrooms of the unsuspecting occupants. It is truly a worrying and alarming sight. Scared, little Sophie jumps back into her bed and hides under the covers in the hope that the giant hasn’t noticed that she is awake and witnessed what he is doing. But she has been noticed by the giant who promptly reaches into her window and plucks her off her bed, whisking her away to his cave in a desolate strange and distant land – a faraway land known as Giant Country.
Sophie is only a small child who fits neatly into the pocket of the giant. The giant is more than four times as tall as an adult, standing at 24 feet tall, a real life giant of a man. Sophie is terrified that because the giant has kidnapped her and whisked her away that he is going to eat her. All she can do is plead that the giant doesn’t eat her, which she does. This is met with laughter from the giant. The giant explains he is a Big Friendly Giant, The BFG and that whilst most giants eat human beans, The BFG doesn’t, and he prefers eating snozzcumbers (even though they taste disgusting). He has no interest in eating Sophie but the other nine man-eating giants (Fleshlumpeater, Bloodbottler, Manhugger, Meatdripper, Childchewer, Butcher Boy, Maidmasher, Bonecruncher and Gizzardgulper) that live outside of his cave most certainly will if they see her. The nine other giants are not so nice though and are twice the size of The BFG, who spends his days catching dreams, letting loose with the most tremendously loud whizzpoppers (farts to you and me), and eating the vilest food ever created in the form of snozzcumbers. Now despite their size, giants need very little sleep, so he spends his days catching dreams and his nights blowing good dreams into the windows of sleeping children (at least he is not blowing the loudest room-shaking whizzpoppers through the windows).
As well as being tall, giants also speak in a language called Gobblefunk – English but with some words mashed together and some in the wrong order. Sophie is told, in The BFG’s muddled speech that Sophie now resides in Giant Country for the rest of her life. The BFG can’t risk taking her back home as she would tell everybody that giants exist, and then they would be hunted by the humans. If that wasn’t devastating enough, she is also told that the nine 50ft man-eating giants just outside the door travel to different countries throughout the world every night devouring human beans (that would be human beings in English), especially children human beans as they apparently taste the best.
Giants eating small chidlers (English translation is children)! Sophie is absolutely appalled and upset at that news and devises a plan with The BFG to visit London and the Queen and put a stop to the other giants. But will they succeed?
Bash my eyebrows, as The BFG would say. The BFG is an excellent children’s story that readers will find just a tiny bit scary but absolutely delumptious. With Dahl’s expressive and inventive use of language, children will love the tale of Sophie, The BFG and the nine man-eating giants.
The BFG might be a dark tale of kidnapping, bullying (The BFG is bullied by the other giants because he is a lot smaller than them and doesn’t eat human beans), man-eating giants who just love the taste of children but is ultimately one of friendship. It is delightfully told with eight year old Sophie as the brave, sassy, intelligent and curious hero with a conscious.
If I were to speak like The BFG in his language then I is thunking that this is an excellent tale of friendship and doing what is right, one that even Dahl’s Chickens may enjoy – sorry, that Gobblefunk language really does bounce around the brain, obviously I don’t chickens love the story (although who knows, they very well may do), I mean Charles Dickens.
Overall, The BFG is a very clever story and wonderful imaginative story. With its interesting and well-developed characters, written with Dahl’s trademark dark humour and expressive use of language that we all love, it really is a delightfully fun read. You will have to read it for yourselves (if you haven’t already) and let me know Am I Right or Am I left (and if you can’t speak in Gobblefunk, that means right or wrong).
An absolutely delicious scrumdiddliumtious read.
RRP: £9.99 (Hardback) / £6.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)