James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach

By Roald Dahl; Lane Smith (Illustrator)

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780679880905, 144pp.

Publication Date: March 19, 1996

Roald Dahl's children's classic will be rediscovered with wonder and delight in this handsome gift edition with all-new black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott Honor Book artist Lane Smith (who also designed the characters for the Disney animated film).How James escapes from his miserable life with two nasty aunts and becomes a hero to his new insect family, including Miss Spider, the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Centipede (with his 21 pairs of gorgeous boots), is "Dahl-icious" fantasy at its best.

About the Author
When Roald Dahl said, "I am an old man full of metal," he wasn't kidding around. "The head of my femur (that's the large round bone of the hip joint) has been sawn off on both sides and a fearsome stainless-steel spike with a ball on top has been hammered into the hollow of my thighbone and glued into place."
"What on earth, you will ask, has all this got to do with writing books for children? Quite a lot and I'll tell you why. It turns the body into a rickety structure and a rickety structure is no good for climbing trees or going for long walks. It prefers to be sitting comfortably in an armchair with a writing board on the lap and the feet resting on a suitcase. Thus it encourages my work and the only work I know is writing books."

Roald Dahl was born in Wales in 1916 and educated in English boarding schools from the age of nine until twenty. During World War II, he was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot in North Africa and Greece. When his active duty was completed, he was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he was asked to write about some of his adventures. ""A Piece of Cake"," his first published work, was an account of a fighter plane crashing in Libya. His first piece of fiction was called ""The Gremlins"," a story about little creatures who make trouble for the Royal Air Force by drilling holes in the planes and wreaking general havoc.

Fifteen years later, Roald Dahl found himself telling bedtime stories to his children over and over again, and those were the basis for "James and the Giant Peach", his first published children's novel. After that came "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", to be followed by many others, including "The BFG, The Witches", and "Matilda".

Every book of Roald Dahl's was written in a little brick hut in the apple orchard about two hundred yards away from his home. He wrote them all in pencil ("I never could type"), sometimes with an old sleeping bag wrapped around him, since there was only a paraffin stove to heat the drafty hut. "When I am up here," he said, "I see only the paper I am writing on, and my mind is far away with Willy Wonka or James or Mr. Fox or Danny or whatever else I am trying to cook up. The room itself is of no consequence. It is out of focus, a place for dreaming and floating and whistling in the wind."

Things that Roald Dahl wrote about himself:

I have a passion for paintings and have collected them for many years.

I make good orange marmalade.

I breed orchids and am a keen gardener.

I eat lots of chocolate.

The only dish I have never eaten is tripe.

Beethoven is wonderful.

Pop singers are horrible.

I would like to have been a good doctor.

I have had eight major operations, three on the hips, five on the spine, and countless smaller ones.

Kindness is more important than piety.

I wish my dog could talk to me.

More can be learned about Roald Dahl in his autobiographical "Boy: Tales of Childhood and Going Solo", as well as in the chapter called "Lucky Break" in "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More". Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of seventy-four. Although the world lost one of its most beloved authors, what he has left behind is a rich library of wonderful tales for children of today and tomorrow to discover and enjoy.

Lane Smith has written and illustrated a bunch of stuff, most recently "There Is A Tribe of Kids", which is set to launch in Summer 2016. He is the author of the middle-grade novel "Return to Augie Hobble, " as well as author and illustrator of "Grandpa Green" which was a 2012 Caldecott Honor book and "It's a Book" which was on the "New York Times" bestseller list for over six months and has been translated into over twenty languages. His other works include the national bestsellers "Madam President" and "John, Paul, George & Ben". His titles with Jon Scieszka have included the Caldecott Honor winner "The Stinky Cheese Man"; "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs"; "Math Curse"; and "Science Verse". Lane's other high profile titles include "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! "by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky; "The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip" by George Saunders; "Big Plans" by Bob Shea; and "James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dahl. In 1996, Lane served as Conceptual Designer on the Disney film version of "James and the Giant Peach".

His books have appeared on the "New York Times" Best Illustrated Book of the Year list four times. Lane and book designer Molly Leach live in rural Connecticut.

Praise For James and the Giant Peach

"This newly-illustrated edition of an avowed children's favorite has all the makings of a classic match-up: Milne had Shepard, Carroll had Tenniel, and now Dahl has Smith...author and illustrator were made for each other, and it's of little consequence that it took almost 35 years for them to meet" --Kirkus.