by Roald Dahl
First sentence: “Sophie couldn’t sleep.”
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Content: There’s a small bit of violence, but for the most part, it’s easy enough for the youngest of the grades 3-5 set. It’s in the Middle Grade section of the bookstore.
Sophie is up late one night in her orphanage when she sees something coming down the street. That something turns out to be a giant, who plucks her out of the orphanage and takes her back to his land. He says it’s because he needs to keep her safe, because there are other, bigger, badder giants around. And he’s not wrong: the giants back at the stomping ground ARE bigger, badder and meaner.
(And that’s where Dahl’s overall themes come in: the BFG is the “runt” of the pack and is constantly being picked on. He’s also more evolved, and smarter, and just better than those bullies.)
Sophie experiences life with the BFG, and together they decide that the other giants need to be stopped (mostly because they eat children; though the BFG’s argument for it was pretty persuasive…). So they go to the Queen (really, my favorite part), convince her of the existence of the giants, and get her help in stopping them.
Perhaps it’s just the order I’ve read these, but this one is now my favorite. I loved the Seuss-like wordplay that went on with the way the BFG talked. I liked the friendship between Sophie and the BFG, and I thought their solution to the problem was pretty ingenious. It’s a delightful book, much less dark than Matilda or as mean as Charlie. So far, this one is the best.