This is a classic Roald Dahl book, it was first published in 1961 the edition we have is from 2001 published by Puffin Books. Illustrated as always by Quentin Blake, the illustrations in this book are outstanding and have a lot more detail than some other illustrations in Roald Dahl’s books.
The story starts with James living with his parents however something terrible happened one day which means James has to go and live with his 2 horrible aunts Spiker and Sponge who make James do all the jobs, never let him go and play, are always shouting at him and he’s not allowed to go further than the bottom of the garden so he never gets to see anyone other than his aunts.
That is until one day something magical happens and so begins the adventure of a lifetime with some unusual new friends.
I had tried reading this story myself several times when I was a young child but hadn’t got very far. I thought when I started reading it to Monkey it had just been because of some of the old fashioned words which I wasn’t familiar with at the time had put me off however I think it was in part also because within the first chapter there is talk of death. I started reading this story to Monkey before his 7th birthday and I will be honest I had completely forgotten what the story was about and had simply took it from his shelf one night to read at bedtime. It was only as I started reading it that I realised we’d never really read a book involving a death least of all one about the death of parents. I did consider putting it back on the shelf for some other time but after asking Monkey whether I should continue he told me to carry on. If you have a sensitive child the book does get happier after chapter 5 (which is how many chapters I read that first evening as I didn’t want to leave him with something sad).
The story unlike many other Roald Dahl books is less obviously funny and after reading it I suggest it’s perhaps more suited to an older child although Monkey did enjoy some of the story and thought the creatures were funny. Monkey gave the book 4/10 as he simply didn’t think it was as funny as previously read Roald Dahl books. I give the book 7/10 I’m pleased I finally got to read it all and was able to explain the old fashioned words to Monkey but I didn’t think it was as enjoyable.