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Saturday, 18 March 2017


Author: The BFG himself, but he uses the pen name Roald Dahl!
Illustrator: Quentin Blake 

I hadn't read The BFG myself as a child; what a joy to discover this book at the same time as my child! We laughed at different moments, we studied different illustrations, but we definitely enjoyed the same book. The experience of discovering and sharing The BFG with my 'notmucher' and 'squeakpip' was like a gloriumptious phizz-whizzing dream for me, a phizzwizzard infact! (and if you're a BFGer, like me, you'll now know what I mean). This book means joining an institution, pre BFG and after. 

Reading the BFG aloud requires embracing and learning a new language, gobblefunk, author Roald Dahl's made up language. The language is built of borrowing and misplacing existing words, much how modern Mandarian evolves, and strangely makes so much sense to a native speaker. Alf (7) however, is less familiar with older formal English, so used the words context ( solely, only) to understand the meaning of the new words. The BFG then, is a fantastic book for building reading comprehension in young children, and the ability to understand how language might imply and infer meaning. 

What Alf and I both agree was or favourite aspect of the book, was the unorthodox ending. Alf kept thinking that the Heads of the Army and Navy would be traitors, and tie the BFG up, but the book turns crazily pro monarchy and optimistic at the ending, and we weren't expecting that. It was refreshing to have such a wildly happy ending, with the BFG employed to live in th UK as a sort of royal dream blower and monarchy defender. 

Alf (7 year old boy) found phizz popping (farting) truly hilarious, whilst I was less hysterical. I was interested in the dream catching, implanting and storing of dreams, whilst Alf said that was too long, and was without the 'bad guys' ( the other giants). On that note, in all these years living alongside, but not in, BFG popular culture in the U.K., I had never realised the BFG was 'the big friendly giant' and that he indeed came from Giantland, and that there would be other giants in this book; it was a magical but also frightening discovery.

Quentin Blake's scratchy little pen drawings throughout, bring welcome visual stimulation forthe reader/ listener, and make the story feel pacy and flowing. I especially liked the silhouettes of the BFG as they made him look larksome and childlike, dancing about in the distance. Alf meanhwile, liked the illustrations that gave him perspective on Sophie's height compared to that of the BFG. We shared, I suppose, the same sense of worry, suspense that Sophie might get eaten by the unruly giant mob, and Alf found the giants descriptive names, 'Childchewer' and 'Meatdripper' for example, both disgusting and very funny in both measure. 

The BFG felt much easier than some of the other Roald Dahl's to read aloud. We've also tried The Twits and Fatastic Mr Fox in the past, but this story was slightly less dialogue laboured and, I felt, flowed more naturally. As with the other Roald Dahl's we have read, elements of the book were scary, such as Sophie hiding from the giant hand in her orphanage dormitory at the start of the book, but at the age range of 6+ years (7years for us), fear and fun developmentally seem to reach a binary and hence Alf experienced fear and excitement, begging not to stop at the end of each chapter. 

In all, a fantastic read, and I'm so pleased I saved some books back in my childhood, to read for the first time with my children. 

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