James and the Giant Peach - Lane Smith, Roald Dahl I've never visited Central Park, but if I ever do, I'll be watching for the giant peach pit where James Henry Trotter settled happily after his wild excursion. I knew I liked this book as a kid but I couldn't remember the details of the story. The thing that stayed in my mind all these years was the feeling of claustrophobia when James makes his way inside the peach and finds all the giant, friendly creepy-crawlies inside the peach pit. As a kid you always place yourself within the story, and I remember thinking how I'd hate to be in that enclosed space with all those critters and no windows. There was no fear of Old-Green-Grasshopper or Centipede or Earthworm or any of the others, just the feeling that if I were James I'd want OUT of that peach pit and into the fresh air. Reading it again as an adult, my strongest impressions are of just how much FUN this whole adventure is. Roald Dahl manages the perfect blend of whimsical, frightful, exciting, and tender elements. I think that's why his books can be every bit as appealing to adults as they are to children. I'd be laughing one minute at Centipede's songs about Aunts Sponge and Spiker, and grossing out a few minutes later when Centipede tells Earthworm that the Cloud-Men will eat him: "They would cut you up like a salami and eat you in thin slices." There's just so much to delight the reader in this first of Roald Dahl's books for children. There are the Cloud-Men who make the weather, the quirky and fractious creatures who share James's journey, the rainbow paint (LOVE the purple rainbow paint on the Centipede!), and of course the strange little man with the bristly black whiskers who gets the whole thing rolling with the "little green things." "Where do they come from?" James wants to know. "Crocodile tongues! One thousand long slimy crocodile tongues boiled up in the skull of a dead witch for twenty days and nights with the eyeballs of a lizard! Add the fingers of a young monkey, the gizzard of a pig, the beak of a green parrot, the juice of a porcupine, and three spoonfuls of sugar. Stew for another week, and then let the moon do the rest!"Ah, Roald Dahl....You can still make my heart go pitter-pat with passages like that.