Well ladies and germs, this is The BFG. What does The BFG stand for? None other of course than “The Big Friendly Giant”! Now I know what you must be thinking, “A big friendly giant? How is that possible?” Well, with Roald Dahl as we have noticed with the stories we have examined so far, anything is possible.
The BFG came about as a combination of a character from one of Dahl’s previous stories, Danny, Champion of the World, in which The BFG was part of the bedtime stories Danny’s father told him. Dahl had thought about writing this book for some time. By this point in his career, he was already a well established writer, so when it came to write this book, he drew on inspiration from Danny, and again from his real life as he often told bedtime stories to his children. One of these stories involved the giant climbing up a ladder outside their bedroom window, and with a bamboo cane came to blow happy dreams to them from the bedroom window. Beautiful isn’t it?
The book was written in 1982, and came out to wide praise and success, winning the Federation of Children’s Book Groups Award that same year, the Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis in 1984, and the Good Book Guide “Best Books of the Past 20 Years” in 1997. This book has also been translated in Spanish, German, Italian, French, Afrikaans, and Welsh. Fun fact, this book is actually one of Dahl’s favourites! The book has already been adapted to film, once in a animated style in 1989 on ITV, and a major motion picture in 2016. (I heard it got poor reviews but don’t let that stop you from seeing it).
The story goes not like your typical fairy tale, (or Jack and the Beanstalk for that matter).
We are introduced to a young orphan girl named Sophie, who lives in an orphanage. She lies awake one night unable to sleep when she sees a giant man carrying a strange looking suitcase. Afraid, she tries to hide but the giant figure grabs her from the window, and runs taking her to his cave. Sophie is afraid that the giant will eat her, but the giant explains that he is The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Sophie is explained that she now must stay with the giant forever since no one else must know of his existence, and that if she is seen she may be eaten by the other “giant” neighbours. The giant explains that he catches good dreams in his suitcase and destroys the bad ones, sharing the good dreams with all the children of the world.
After Sophie is almost eaten by one of the evil giants, the Bloodbottler after hiding in a giant vegetable known as a snozzcumber, the BFG and Sophie work out a plan to destroy all the other bad giants. They decide to get help from the Queen of England by sending her a dream of the evil giants. Once the Queen sees this she offers her help, and get help from other countries to trap the giants in a pit, where they can never eat people again.
Classroom Connections (Primary/Junior Level 3-6 and Beyond):
Nothing like a story to have a in a class where there are so many important character traits to learn, such as finding courage, working together, not judging by appearances, and discovering the diversity in friendship. Just from these points, you can extend these ideas into almost all curricular strands, like language (writing positive comments about fellow classmates, telling stories about unique friendships, or even writing letters to Sophie and the BFG-what would you ask?), or if you were to create a creature (think art), what would it look like, sound like, what would it eat?) Also, think about social studies, in examining different cultures and what makes them unique. I am sure that you can think of many other ideas so if you have any send them my way or comment and I will add them on or talk about them in future posts!
Next on our Book Examination Series: Matilda!