James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
After James Henry Trotter’s parents are tragically eaten by a rhinoceros, he goes to live with his two horrible aunts, Spiker and Sponge. Life there is no fun, until James accidentally drops some magic crystals by the old peach tree and strange things start to happen. The peach at the top of the tree begins to grow, and before long it’s as big as a house. Inside, James meets a bunch of oversized friends—Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, and more. With a snip of the stem, the peach starts rolling away, and the great adventure begins!
After James Henry Trotter had been living with his aunts for three whole years there came a morning when something rather peculiar happened to him. And this thing, which as I say was only rather peculiar, soon caused a second thing to happen which was very peculiar. And then the very peculiar thing, in its own turn, caused a really fantastically peculiar thing to occur.
It all started on a blazing hot day in the middle of the summer. Aunt Sponge, Aunt Spiker, and James were all out in the garden. James had been put to work, as usual. This time he was chopping wood for the kitchen stove. Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker were sitting comfortably in deck chairs nearby, sipping tall glasses of fizzy lemonade and watching him to see that he didn’t stop work for one moment.
Aunt Sponge was enormously fat and very short. She had small piggy eyes, a sunken mouth, and one of those white flabby faces that looked exactly as though it had been boiled. She was like a great white soggy overboiled cabbage. Aunt Spiker, on the other hand, was lean and tall and bony, and she wore steel-rimmed spectacles that fixed onto the end of her nose with a clip. She had a screeching voice and long wet narrow lips, and whenever she got angry or excited, little flecks of spit would come shooting out of her mouth as she talked. And there they sat, these two ghastly hags, sipping their drinks, and every now and again screaming at James to chop faster and faster. They also talked about themselves, each one saying how beautiful she thought she was. Aunt Sponge had a long-handled mirror on her lap, and she kept picking it up and gazing at her own hideous face.
“I look and smell,” Aunt Sponge declared, “as lovely as a rose!
Just feast your eyes upon my face, observe my shapely nose!
Behold my heavenly silky locks!
And if I take off both my socks
You’ll see my dainty toes.”
“But don’t forget,” Aunt Spiker cried, “how much your tummy shows!”
Aunt Sponge went red. Aunt Spiker said, “My sweet, you cannot win,
Behold MY gorgeous curvy shape, my teeth, my charming grin!
Oh, beauteous me! How I adore
My radiant looks! And please ignore
The pimple on my chin.”
“My dear old trout!” Aunt Sponge cried out,
“You’re only bones and skin!”
“Such loveliness as I posses can only truly shine
In Hollywood!” Aunt Sponge declared. “Oh,
Wouldn’t that be fine!
I’d capture all the nations’ hearts!
They’d give me all the leading parts!
The stars would all resign!”
“I think you’d make,” Aunt Spiker said, “a lovely Frankenstein.”
Poor James was still slaving away at the chopping-block. The heat was terrible. He was sweating all over. His arm was aching. The chopper was a large blunt thing far too heavy for a small boy to use. And as he worked, James began thinking about all the other children in the world and what they might be doing at this moment. Some would be riding tricycles in their gardens. Some would be walking in cool woods and picking bunches of wild flowers. And all the little friends whom he used to know would be down by the seaside, playing in the wet sand and splashing around in the water. . .
Great tears began oozing out of James’s eyes and rolling down his cheeks. He stopped working and leaned against the chopping-block, over-whelmed by his own unhappiness.
“What’s the matter with you?” Aunt Spiker screeched, glaring at him over the top of her steel spectacles.
James began to cry.
“Stop that immediately and get on with your work, you nasty little beast!” Aunt Sponge ordered.
“Oh, Auntie Sponge!” James cried out. “And Auntie Spiker! Couldn’t we all—please—just for once—go down to the seaside on the bus? It isn’t very far—and I feel so hot and awful and lonely . . . ”
Why, you lazy good-for-nothing brute!” Aunt Spiker shouted.
“Beat him!” cried Aunt Sponge.
“I certainly will!” Aunt Spiker snapped. She glared at James, and James looked back at her with large frightened eyes. “I shall beat you later on in the day when I don’t feel so hot,” she said. “And now get out of my sight, you disgusting little worm, and give me some peace!”
James turned and ran. He ran off as fast as he could to the far end of the garden and hid himself behind that clump of dirty old laurel bushes that we mentioned earlier on. Then he covered his face with his hands and began to cry and cry.
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