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A World of Whizzpoppers and Whoopsey-Splunkers!
The BFG - Roald Dahl
Member Name: jo1976
The BFG - Roald Dahl
Date: 24/05/11, updated on 10/10/13 (79 review reads)
Advantages: A fun, imaginative read for young children
Disadvantages: Some aspects might be a little scary for sensitive children
Although I was an avid reader as a child, I didn't really discover Roald Dahl's novels until I was a parent and I began looking for suitable books to share with my oldest son when he was around six or seven years old. I went on to buy a boxed set of most of Dahl's classic children's stories and have read most of them several times over. One of my personal favourites has to be the 'BFG' - the Big Friendly Giant.
The story starts with a little girl, Sophie, who is actually based on Dahl's own grand-daughter who grew up to be a model and celebrity in her own right. Sophie spots a giant in the middle of the night and finds herself spirited away. Luckily for Sophie, this particular giant, the 'Big Friendly Giant' isn't a 'cannybull', unlike the rest of the giants. He doesn't eat children or any 'human beans', choosing to eat rather gross sounding 'snozzcumbers' instead.
One of the main attractions of this story is found in the fantastic made-up words used throughout. This really is wonderfully inventive and imaginative, making it an ideal book to share with a child at bedtime or for a confident young reader to become engrossed in themselves. The story is relatively easy to follow although the use of the giant's made up language and strange semi-phonetic way of naming objects might cause a few problems for younger readers. Any sticklers for grammar might find the giant's interpretation of the English language quite difficult to stomach and there is also the unusual use of the continuous present tense, which makes reading the story seem a little odd in places. As the BFG himself explains, 'I sometimes is saying things a little squiggly.'
As the adventure goes on, Sophie finds herself educated in the ways of the giants. Here, Dahl really has utilised every bit of his incredible imagination and really managed to captivate a child's attention. From an adult perspective, I found the book an hilarious read and particularly liked the BFG's revelation that every nationality has their own distinctive flavour! The Turkish apparantly taste of turkey, Greeks are greasy and people from Panama taste of hats! The humour throughout the story really appealed to my son from around six or seven years old. Any book that features farting - here known as 'whizzpoppers'- is likely to appeal to a child's sense of humour and this certainly succeeds.
The BFG might not be the best choice for a bedtime read for very young children or for particularly sensitive children who might find the idea of giants (even friendly ones) sneaking around at night-time and stealing (or even eating) children, more than a little disturbing! There are a few scary moments in the story, such as when Sophie is almost eaten alive by the 'Bloodbottler' - a character every bit as nasty as the name suggests! There is also a lot of talk about dreams within the story, as the BFG is a dream catcher. A child already prone to bad dreams might find the idea of nightmares deliberately being planted by giants quite worrying. On the other hand, it could open up a discussion about dreams and where they really do come from which could prove to be reassuring rather than scary.
As far as my son was concerned, this book was just a fun, imaginative read with what the film industry would call 'scenes of mild peril' to add interest. I would recommend this as an engaging read for children from around six to ten years, depending on the sensitivity of the child involved.
Summary: Roald Dahl at his best!