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COMPLETE NOVEL GUIDE: James and the Giant Peach 2007 Nancy Polette 


James Henry Trotter had a happy life until he was about four-years-old. That was when his parents were eaten up by an enormous rhinoceros in broad daylight! His house by the sea had to be sold and James had to go and live with his horribly hideous aunts with the strange names of Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. They lived in a ramshackle house on a hill surrounded by a desolate garden with the exception of a clump of old laurel bushes. James would often gaze wistfully toward the sea. Then a strange thing happened. James found a giant peach that grew and grew until it was the size of a small house. He found a secret path into the heart of the peach where he met a shorthorned grasshopper, a spider, a ladybug, an earthworm, a centipede, a glowworm and a silkworm. Together they leave the hillside and begin a great adventure which ends 1,250 feet up in the air on the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Share the adventures of James and his friends and the new home they learn to love and enjoy in James and the Giant Peach.

Tell something children will remember


"I have never met anybody who persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshaling his thoughts on paper." That was the complaint of one of Roald Dahl's teachers who predicted that the boy would never write anything that made sense. As you can imagine, Roald Dahl hated school.

He especially disliked the matron at the boarding school he attended and used her as the model for Miss Trenchbull ( who hated children) in Matilda. The boy who hated school loved adventure. He traveled to the diamond mines in Africa and flew a fighter plane in World War II. He began writing children's books when his first-born was old enough to have stories read to her. He would have to create a different story every night and continued the tradition with his second child. "Had I not had children of my own, I would not ever have written books for children, nor would I have been capable of doing so," said Mr. Dahl. He has written many children's favorites including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, The Magic Finger, Matilda and The Enormous Crocodile


1. Cut apart the words below. How many groups of words can you make? A group must have at least four words and all words in the group must be related in some way.

2. Use as many words as you can in one sentence to either describe the cover of the book or to tell what you think the book will be about. You can add other words as needed.

admonition reverie tranquil
circumstances friends independence
decipher hysteria preference
traumatized sustenance curiosity
energetic indulgent exhausted
criticize imagination significant
vampire fascinating aghast
inexplicable vegetables immobile
determination pathetic behavior
exemplary devious distressed
commotion imminent petrified
bewildered starvation fraught


An anticipation guide is a series of ten or more values statements related to the selection to be read. The reader brings his or her experience to the guide in marking agree or disagree to each statement. After the selection is read the reader reexamines his or her initial responses to see if thinking has changed.

Put a check on the line under AGREE if you agree with the statement. Put a check on the line under DISAGREE if you disagree with the statement.

____________1. Anyone forced to live with wicked relatives should run away.
____________2. Doing all the work around the house can be rewarding.
____________3. If there were magic crystals to make everyone happy there would be no more wars.
____________4. A dormant tree can never produce fruit.
____________5. Fear of the dark is an unnreasonable fear.
____________6. Finding a light at the end of a tunnel means that a problem has been solved.
____________7. Losing something valuable is not always a bad thing.
____________8. Earthworms are very useful creatures.
____________9. It is possible for a peach to grow the size of a house.
____________10. The air can be filled with many flying objects other than birds.
____________11. Discovering how an insect grows can be fascinating.
____________12. A peach could roll down the street only in a fantasy tale.


Directions: Discuss these questions in a small group. As a group come up with one answer for each of the ten questions.

  1. If James was so mistreated by his aunts why did he stay? What are the advantages to his decision to stay?
  2. What caused the old man to choose James to bestow the magic upon?
  3. If you were James would you choose a life with your aunts or a life on your own? Why?
  4. Why did James accept the peach inhabitants so easily?
  5. Why did James risk his life for the centipede?
  6. How risky was being carried by several hundred seagulls? Explain your answer.
  7. How did the old man know that James was so mistreated and needed the inhabitants of the peach?
  8. Why didn't the sharks eat the peach when it was floating in the ocean?
  9. With all of the things that happened to James what do you think was the best and worst?
  10. What would happen to James today with the situation he was in at the end of the story, living by himself without a guardian?
  11. What fairy tale is similar to James and the Giant Peach? In what ways?
  12. Why do you suppose Roald Dahl made Miss Spider a character rather than any other insect?


Chapters One - Four:

James Henry Trotter's parents were killed in a freak accident in London while shopping. So, James was sent to live with his Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge. They didn't seem to like little children at all.One day James met an old man. He held in his hands a bag, a bag full of glowing stones. The old man told James that the magic inside the bag would free him from his life with his horrible aunts. He warned James not to drop the bag for the magic would go to someone or something else.


Directions: Write a report by using a bio-poem about one of the four characters you have met so far in the book. An example is provided for you below.

First Name: James Henry Trotter
Four Traits: Sweet, sensitive, hard-working, lonely
Related to: Aunt Spiker and Sponge
Cares deeply about: his life and his mom and dad
Who feels: sad
Who needs: love and nurturing
Who gives: 100% of himself
Who fears: his aunts
Who would like to see: his mom and dad again
Resident of: England
Give an example
First Name:______________________________________________
Four Traits: ______________________________________________
Related to:______________________________________________
Cares deeply about:______________________________________________
Who feels: ______________________________________________
Who needs: ______________________________________________
Who gives: ______________________________________________
Who fears:______________________________________________
Who would like to see: ______________________________________________
Resident of: ______________________________________________
Provide an outline or pattern for the student to work with



Chapters Five - Nine:
James dropped the bag of glowing stones while running back toward the house. They sank into the ground surrounding the old peach tree. One peach at the top of the tree started to grow and grow. It grew until it was as big as a house. Aunt Spiker and Sponge sold tickets to see it. One night James went outside and was standing near the peach when he noticed what looked like a door on the side of the peach.

Here are poems by two women who reveal their love of nature in their writing. Try using one of the poems patterns for writing poems about the peach.

Who has seen the wind,
Neither you nor I
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

             Christina Rosetti

Give examples

Patterns to use
Provide an outline for the student to work with.
Who has seen the giant peach
Neither _________________________ or_____________________________________
But when the __________________ _______________________________________
                                       (topic)         (does what like a person?)
The _____________________ is________________________________________
                                (topic)         (doing what?)

Swift things are beautiful
Swallows and deer
And lightning that falls
Bright veined and clear

        Elizabeth Coatsworth

Giant peaches are beautiful
_______________________________ and _________________________________
And _________________________________ that _________________________
____________________________________ and ____________________________

Chapters Ten - Sixteen:
James went inside and found an entire room of insects the size of human beings. He met an Old-Green-Grasshopper, Spider, Ladybug, Centipede, Earthworm and lastly a Glow-Worm. They soon fell asleep in beds made by the Spider. The peach fell from the tree and it started to roll down the hill. Inside everyone was jostled from one side of the peach to the other. Aunts Spiker and Sponge were in for a shock when they went outside to let those who bought tickets see the peach. It was heading straight for them. It rolled right over them. It rolled all the way to the ocean.

ACTIVITY: A Sample Research Report

Name different kinds of spiders and tell where each is found in a chant.

Where can you find a spider?
Trapdoor Spider
In a burrow
Wolf Spider
Balloon Spider
On a fence
In the air, too.
Crab Spider
On a flower
Water Spider
Under water
Black Widow
In a corner
These are just a few.
Now you know,
There you go,
Off to see a spider.
Use the same pattern to write a chant about other insects found in James and the Giant Peach.
Where can you find a --
_________________________________________________________, too.
These are just a few.
Now you know,
There you go,
Off to see a _______________________________.

Chapters Seventeen - Twenty:
Inside the peach was a disaster. They had no idea where they were. James believed they were near an ocean. When the spider had finished spinning a rope they all climbed out. They were floating on the ocean. Panic began to run throughout the group, they were starving and were stuck out at sea without food. James wasn't worried, the peach would work just fine. Then James had a plan to get the peach out of the water. His plan was to tie a knot in the string the Silkworm had woven and toss it up and around a seagull's neck and if enough seagulls can be hooked they would pull them out.


Choose a character in the story and write an acrostic poem. Include as much information as you can. An example had been provided below.
S pins silk
I s very reserved
L ays around all day
K ills small insects
W orks very hard to save the peach
O nly comes out of the peach when he's needed
R olls to go anywhere
M inds his own business


____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________
____    ___________________________________________________


Chapters Twenty-One - Twenty-Four:
The plan had worked, they were in the air floating. As they were traveling in the air they spotted a ship below. The ship thought the peach to be a secret weapon, until the Captain took a closer look and saw a small boy in trousers standing next to a ladybug and a grasshopper.


Directions: As James and the Giant Peach are floating through the air it is uncertain where they will land. You are a travel agent and you are to plan their destination, but you can't tell us. We have to figure it out from the clues you give. Research some cities, towns, states or countries. The world is open to you. Describe it in a research riddle below. A format has been given to you.


Let us go to brand new places
And see the world's many faces.
We will find:
The muddy Missouri River rolling along the city's edges
Noah's Ark with elephants and tall giraffes
The first state Capitol of Missouri
Bumpy cobblestone streets reflecting the red of Christmas
Well preserved buildings from the 1800s
Decorated horse drawn carriages with holiday passengers
But that's not all:
Roasting chestnuts on warm fires
Elaborately dressed Santas from many lands
Live reindeer watching the crowds
Christmas parades delight children
Carolers in costume with voices raised in song
Concerts in the gazebo
Do you know where we are?
Answer: St. Charles, MO at the holiday season
Let us go to brand new places
And see the world's many faces.
We will find (list 6 specific details in phrases):
1. _________________________________
2. _________________________________
3. _________________________________
4. _________________________________
5. _________________________________
6. _________________________________
But that's not all (list 6 more details in phrases):
1. _________________________________
2. _________________________________
3. _________________________________
4. _________________________________
5. _________________________________
6. _________________________________
Do you know where we are?
Answer: ______________________________________


Chapters Twenty-Five - Twenty-Nine:

As the novel progresses, James finds that each of the insects has an important contribution to make to the world. The traveling peach is spotted by the Cloud Men who make hailstones to throw on the people of the world. When the Cloud Men throw hailstones at the peach it is damaged and its inhabitants run for cover. When the storm ends and James and his friends come out of hiding they see the Cloud Men lowering a rainbow from the sky.

ACTIVITY: It's All in a Word

1.EXAMPLE The word that best describes James at the beginning of the novel:
A. forlorn B. optimistic C. debilitated D. jubilant
because had lost his parents and was despised by his aunts.

2. A word which best describes a severe thunderstorm is:
A. mystical B. magnificent C. malevolent D. eerie
because __________________________________________________________________

3. The word that best describes the cloud men's hailstones is:
A. overwhelming B. ambitious C. challenging D. boring
because __________________________________________________________________

4. The word that best describes how James felt when he first saw the peach:
A. speechless B. sneaky C. ambiguous D. fearful
because __________________________________________________________________

5. The word that best describes James' feelings for his aunts is:
A. antipathy B. admiration C. kinship D. revulsion
because __________________________________________________________________

6. A word that best describes floating in the air is:
A. foolhardy B. responsible C. visionary D. daring
because __________________________________________________________________

7. A word that best describes an insect the size of a person:
A. humanistic B. gargantuan C. fearsome D. abysmal
because __________________________________________________________________

8. A word that describes the peach.
A. extraordinary B. obese C. tubular D. dissipated


Chapters Thirty -Thirty-Four:
Just when James thinks they are out of trouble the sky opens up they had to hold on for dear life. They then had to battle the snow and blizzard the Cloud-Men sent them. Once morning came the peach was over land once again and James knew how to get the peach down. If they cut a few of the strings at a time that would gradually set the peach down. The peach was spotted from the ground and speculations spread fast on what it could be. The strings were being cut and it got down to the last few and the peach began to plummet to the earth. Everything seemed to be ending for the peach's inhabitants.


Re-write the following sentences, keeping the same meaning. Do not use any word in your sentences that contains the letter A.

Example: The peach landed and broke apart.
Rewritten:The fruit touched down splitting into pieces.

1. James awoke so early that it was still dark.

2. James'parents were killed in freak accident.

3. One day James met an old man.

4. The old man had a magic bag.

5. He warned James not to drop the bag.

6. Inside the peach was a disaster.

7. They were floating in the air.


Chapters Thirty-Five - Thirty-Nine:
They continued to plummet until they hit the Empire State Building. The Head of the Fire Department couldn't understand what was going on when he saw all of the insects on the peach. Then James came out and introduced them to his friends, the insects. They were given a parade to celebrate and the children climbed all over the peach taking bites out of it. Once the parade was over everyone who was on the peach ride became very important, especially James. In the park he lived in the peach stone and let children by the thousands into his home and told them of his adventure in the peach.


Here are elements Roald Dahl used to create a memorable story.

Alliteration: Repeating beginning sounds (Example:tangled with terrible trouble)
Metaphor: Comparing without the use of like or as (Example: The hailstones were bullets aimed at the travelers.)
Personification: Giving life to nonliving objects (Example:Fingers of wind plucked the clothes).
Repetition: Repeating phrases for emphasis. (Example: The rainbow dropped lower and lower and lower out of the sky.)
Simile: Comparing using like or as. (Example: The peach was as big as a mountain)

Rewrite the booktalk found on page two.
Write a five sentence summary of the booktalk using the literary elements below. Sentences can be presented in any order.

A sentence that contains a simile.
A sentence that contains alliteration.
A sentence that contains a metaphor.
A sentence that uses repetition for effect.
A sentence that shows personification.


Here are standards to apply in evaluating original stories or poems, written research products and non-written products. Score yourself from one (did not meet the standard at all) to ten (went beyond the standard). There are ten items for each type of product. Total your score.

90-100 Outstanding 80-89 Good Job 70-79 Try A Little Harder
Shows concept of plot_____________
Relates setting to plot_____________
Describes characters several ways_____________
Logical sequence of action_____________
Story problem easily identified_____________
Use of descriptive language_____________
Creative problem solution_____________
Correct spelling _____________
Correct use of language_____________
Neat and completed on time_____________
Use of a variety of sources_____________
All facts verified by listed sources_____________
Clarity of expression_____________
Logical progression of ideas_____________
Correct spelling_____________
Correct use of language _____________
Paper's conclusions make sense_____________
Presents material in a creative way _____________
Information is easy to understand_____________
Neat and completed on time_____________


Titles by the author Roald Dahl.

. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982.
Sophie is saved by the BFG and finds herself in a strange environment.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Illustrated by Joseph Schindelman. Knopf, 1964.
Charlie and four of his less than wonderful friends tour on extraordinary chocolate factory. They all meet with disaster except for Charlie.

Danny, the Champion of the World. Illustrated by Jill Bennett. Knopf, 1975.
Dad helps Danny try to save the birds of the woods before Mr. Hazell's shooting party.

The Magic Finger . Illustrated by William Pene Du Bois. HarperCollins, 1966.
But when her neighbors shoot and kill animals, a little girl uses her "magic finger."

Matilda . Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Viking-Kestral, 1988.
Genius Matilda rids her school of mean headmistress Trunchbull.

The Witches . Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Farrar, 1983.
A boy and his grandmamma save English children from being turned into mice by witches.


Air Is All Around You by Franklyn Branley. HarperCollins, 1996
An explanation of the atmosphere and its effect on Earth.

Big Bugs by Seymour Simon. Chronicle Books, 2005.
Microscopic blowups of insects which reveal a world few people see.

Flash, Crash Rumble and Roll by Franklyn Branley. HarperCollins, 2002
What causes storms including rain, hail, thunder and lightning.

If You Hopped Like a Frog by David Schwartz. Scholastic, 1999
The author compares the abilities of humans and wild creatures with accuracy and humor.

Spiders by Seymour Simon. HarperCollins, 2003.
A look at the world of spiders with fascinating information and photographs.

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