The BFG by Roald Dahl

April 21, 2009

the-bfg Plot summary (with possible spoilers): One night, I young orphan girl named Sophie can’t fall asleep. So she goes to look out the window, where she beholds an amazing sight: a huge 24-foot tall giant leaning into the window of a neighbor’s house, blowing something at the two children sleeping there. Sophie is scared half to death, and immediately runs away in order to hide under her blankets. But she’s too late. The giant has seen her, and he comes over, plucks her out of bed, and carries her off with him.

They travel for quite a long time before arriving at the giant’s cave. Sophie is convinced that the giant means to eat her, especially after she witnesses the actions of the giant’s nine far bigger, far more vicious companions. But when they’re alone, Sophie’s giant says his name is BFG, which stands for Big Friendly Giant. Unlike the other giants he lives with, the BFG does not eat “human beans”, so Sophie has nothing to worry about. The BFG took her away because he’d never been seen by a human bean before, and he got scared. He doesn’t want to be put in a zoo, tracked with a barcode scanner, or otherwise studied in any way, which is what he’s sure would happen if humans learned of his existence.

Sophie and the BFG soon become friends and share stories of their lives. Sophie is fascinated by the BFG’s tales, and thinks that he’s really a lovely giant. But she insists that they must do something to stop the other giants, who go to different countries every night to pluck unsuspecting children out of their beds and eat them for supper.

The BFG agrees, and together they hatch a plan that involves the Queen of England and the Royal Army. Convincing the Queen that giants are real and that the BFG is indeed a friendly one is their biggest challenge, but Sophie and the BFG complete that task with relative ease. Then they enlist the help of Army and Air Force helicopters to capture the other giants, transport them to a deep hole, and imprison them there forever.

Liked:

  • This was a whimsical book that I’m sure children in the target age group would enjoy.
  • Sophie is a likable main character, and proves to have a good heart, which is just the kind of role model that children’s books should feature.
  • The BFG and his world were vividly described by Dahl, and the special language the BFG utilized was a lot of fun.

Disliked:

  • There wasn’t a whole lot of action in the book. I expected a kid’s book to be filled with more adventures, but Dahl seemed content to reveal everything through dialogue rather than more compelling scenes.
  • I thought the ending was kind of lame. I know Dahl didn’t want to kill off the other giants because he was preaching the whole “two wrongs don’t make a right” theme, but still… it was anticlimactic to have the giants end up in a hole in the ground.

Rating:

I read this book because it’s on the Observer list of the Top 100 novels of all-time, so I was expecting a real treat. And while I did have more likes than dislikes in my above lists, I just couldn’t figure out why on earth this novel rates as one of the best 100 ever written. I thought Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was much better. Anyway, I give The BFG 3 stars out of 5.

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