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The BFG    by Roald Dahl order for
by Roald Dahl
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2002 (1982)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

My sons and I listened to an audio version of The BFG, narrated brilliantly in multiple distinct voices by Natasha Richardson. Generally I prefer reading books, but believe this one communicates much better in the taped version. The 'Big Friendly Giant' (BFG) is actually not that big ... for a giant that is. He's the runt of his race and a vegetarian to boot. The uneducated BFG's language is rife with hilarious malapropisms, which come across beautifully in audio.

In 'the witching hour', orphaned Sophie spots the BFG doing something odd through surrounding windows with a trumpet-like device. When he realizes she's awake he has to kidnap her, to keep the secret of the giants' existence. He takes her to his own desolate, blue-rocked desert country and they converse in his cave. The BFG's remarks are punctuated by his regular demand of 'Is I right or is I left?' He tells Sophie that his horrible fellow giants snack on 'human beans' around the world - the location depending on what particular flavor they are after. Apparently inhabitants of Wellington, New Zealand taste of boots, whereas munching humans from Chile helps to cool off on a hot day.

Initially terrified, Sophie soon realizes she has nothing to fear from this big-hearted giant, but she has close calls with his larger peers, who have evocative names like Bonecrusher, Fleshlumpeater and Gizzardgulper. Sophie's almost swallowed in a chunk of foul 'snozzcumber' (the poor BFG's regular diet), and is tossed around in his pocket when the other giants bully him. She accompanies him to catch and bottle dreams for little 'chiddlers' (which is what the trumpet thingie was all about) and she tastes his delicious 'frobscottle' - whose bubbles go down instead of up, leading to a very funny discussion of the relative merits (not to mention rudeness) of 'whizzpoppers' (farts) versus burps.

Sophie and the BFG enjoy their time together until they discover that the other giants are off on a group expedition to dine on English chiddlers. The action the duo takes includes giving the Queen of England a 'trogglehumper' of a dream, and involves the British army and air force. You're guaranteed to love the ending, especially the 'Don't feed' notice. The BFG is the perfect audiobook to take on a trip, as it's one that all ages can enjoy - I'm already looking forward to listening to it again.

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