James & the Giant Peach: Genre & Facts

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  • 0:04 James & the Giant Peach
  • 0:23 Roald Dahl
  • 0:51 Origins of the Story
  • 1:18 Genre: Fantasy
  • 2:26 Illustrations
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

In this lesson, you'll learn about James & the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, including how the author got the idea for the book, along with some characteristics about its illustrators and literary genre.

James & the Giant Peach

'My dear young fellow,' the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, 'there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven't started wondering about yet.' This quote from James and the Giant Peach tells us how important imagination and wonder are in this magical fantasy written by Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl

Prior to writing James and the Giant Peach, Dahl, who was from England, had only written stories for adults. James and the Giant Peach was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1961, the same publisher he had worked with on some of his short stories for adults. James and the Giant Peach became very popular and is still read by many children today. Dahl went on to write other children's books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Origins of the Story

Roald Dahl got the idea for James and the Giant Peach as he wondered how a tiny apple seed could grow into such a big tree while he was out in his orchard, or a garden for fruit trees. He thought, 'What if it never stopped growing?' Dahl thought about whether an apple, cherry, or other fruit would be best. He eventually chose a giant peach, because peaches are big, pretty, and squishy, and have a seed in the middle to play with.

Genre: Fantasy

Is it possible to live inside of a real peach, or have insects the size of people as your friends? No, but magical elements like this make for a fun story! James and the Giant Peach is a fantasy, or a story that focuses on characters and events not found in real life. For example, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Harry Potter books, and Peter Pan, fall into the genre, or literary style, of fantasy.

Some authors specialize in fantasy because it makes for interesting story possibilities. Fantasy is also a way to explain and share ideas. For example, in James and the Giant Peach, Dahl uses fantastical adventures to help readers understand how we can always overcome our fears. Additionally, fun creatures like Centipede and Miss Spider emphasize the importance of friendship.

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