Published by Penguin on August 16, 2007
Genres: Action & Adventure, Juvenile Fiction
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.
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Captured by a giant! The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) 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!
Last month C and I finished listening to Roald Dahl’s The BFG, which I read so long ago all I really remember is how sweet and gentle the giant is. So it was a real treat to revisit this book—like reading it for the first time. I’m glad I picked up the audiobook version, because David Walliams is a brilliant narrator. Very expressive, and so much enthusiasm! Extra sound effects and bits of music added to the listening experience, too.
Sophie and the BFG may be very different, but as they get to know each other, they quickly develop and nurture a close friendship. A huge part of that is due to their transparency with each other. For example, Sophie corrects the BFG’s words/grammar multiple times, not realizing she is hurting his feelings. The BFG speaks up about it. Walliams delivers the following passage so perfectly—quietly, gently, with not even a hint of anger—it ends up being one of the most powerful moments in the book:
The BFG stopped writing and raised his head slowly. His eyes rested on Sophie’s face. ‘I is telling you once before,’ he said quietly, ‘that I is never having a chance to go to school. I is full of mistakes. They is not my fault. I do my best. You is a lovely little girl, but please remember that you is not exactly Miss Knoweverything yourself.’
‘I’m sorry’ Sophie said. ‘I really am. It is very rude of me to keep correcting you.’
But C loved the BFG’s speech, and all the funny words he uses (Dahl’s creative wordplay is truly delightful). She found the descriptions of the other giants a tad scary, but the narration had just enough of a goofy tone that she didn’t ask to stop listening (and she’d have quickly shut that down if she was actually scared). However, she was kind of troubled by Sophie’s description of life in the orphanage (we had to pause for some reassurance) so the happy ending was a relief.
The BFG is full of friendship, dream-catching, adventure, and ethical dilemmas. It’s the kind of children’s book that grows with the reader, revealing more layers as we age.