Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the bfg

I am pretty psyched that the kid and her third grade class are reading Roald Dahl's The BFG (which stands for The Big Friendly Giant). As funny as it is, it's also actually pretty sophisticated stuff, replete with Dahl's wonderful, playful language, like the giant's food, snozzcumbers (a sort of nasty cucumber) and his favorite beverage, frobscottle, which is sort of like soda pop, but with bubbles at the bottom of the bottle which cause the drinker to make noisy whizzpoppers, which speak for themselves.

The BFG has his own unique way of speaking, a humorous mish-mash of English. The kid likes the book so much that she has been reading it to me while we're in the car. There are themes of bullying and individuality and friendship and loneliness, but Dahl also addresses violence. In the chapter "Journey to Giant Country" the young human girl Sophie, who is quickly becoming the BFG's friend, is shocked that most giants (not the BFG, of course) eat humans. But the BFG gently explains to her that giants aren't so different from other creatures. Birds eat worms, cats eat birds, etc. He points out that humans are the only only animals that kill others of it own kind, humans.

As the BFG puts it, "Human beans is always killing human beans." It seems an oddly appropriate book to be reading at the moment.

Sophie and the BFG, illustration by Quentin Blake

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