James Henry Trotter, an ordinary four year old boy, has had a happy life but is orphaned as a result of a bizarre and terrible accident &emdash; his parents were eaten up by a rhino which had escaped from the London Zoo (although rhinos are, in truth, herbivorous). He is sent to live with his two maiden aunts, Spiker and Sponge, who subject him to a variety of physical and mental abuse. One day, three years later, while chopping wood in the garden, James, then age seven, meets a strange man who mysteriously knows James''s plight and gives him a small sack containing the ingredients for a magic potion, the consumption of which, the stranger promises, will bring James wealth, happiness, and great adventure. Unfortunately, while running back to the house to hide the sack, James trips and drops it. It bursts and the magic green crystals sink into the ground and vanish without a trace - or so it then seems. James is horrified at the loss of what seemed to be his only opportunity for escape from his wretched aunts. But things take another odd turn when a long-barren peach tree in the garden puts forth a single fruit which grows to almost twice the size of the tree. Spiker and Sponge realize they can make money, so they charge people to see the giant peach. One night, James, who has been shoved out of the house to pick up the litter from the crowd, crawls inside the giant peach, where he finds a most bizarre group of friends – all giant creepy-crawlies: the Centipede, Miss Spider, the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Silkworm, the Earthworm, Mrs. Ladybird and the Glowworm. The peach, with the help of the Centipede, breaks off the tree, rolls over and flattens and kills James''s two aunts, and into the Atlantic Ocean. Seeking to float to New York City to begin new lives, the friends embark on an adventure across the sea on the giant peach. Among the things they encounter before reaching the city are a swarm of sharks and air-elemental creatures called Cloud Men, who are responsible for painting rainbows. In the end, upon reaching the city, James and his unusual friends are accepted into society. James, having to retell his story to fascinated friends over and over, decides to write an account of the adventure - the book which the reader has just finished. Film version A film version of the same name was released in 1996, directed and co-produced, respectively, by The Nightmare Before Christmas
collaborators Henry Selick and Tim Burton.
It featured a combination of live-action and stop-motion animation. Characters James Henry Trotter
- An ordinary 7-year-old boy, has had a happy life but is orphaned as a result of a bizarre and terrible accident. He is sent to live with his two aunts, Spiker and Sponge, who subject him to a variety of physical and mental abuse. The Old-Green-Grasshopper
- is an old, wise musician (he plays the fiddle). The Centipede
- is a boisterous but good-natured rascal, fond of eating and singing. The Earthworm
- is blind and very pessimistic. He frequently argues with the Centipede. The Ladybird
(or in American versions of the book, Ladybug) - is a kind, motherly character. The Glowworm
- is a living-lighting-system for the peach''s interior. She is fond of sleeping. The Silkworm
- is a quiet, inactive creature who helped very much with her amazing "power" to weave very fine gossamer/silk. (She is missing from the movie.) Miss Spider
- is a gentle creature (whose web-silk replaces that of the missing character of the Silkworm in the film). Old Man
- A wizard-like magician who helped James. [[Aunt Sponge
]] - A dimwitted, obese aunt. [[Aunt Spiker
]] - A cruel, thin-as-a-stick aunt. References to other Roald Dahl works James and the Giant Peach possibly references Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the beginning and end of the novel. When the peach rolls off the tree, it rolls through a "famous chocolate factpossibly a reference to Willy Wonka''s chocolate factory (the illustration even depicts the factory as being such). Towards the end of the book, people in New York City accuse the passengers aboard the peach to be Whangdoodles, Snozzwangers or even Hornswogglers. All three of those animals are mentioned by Willy Wonka to live in Loompaland, which is also the home of Oompa-Loompas.