1. The book was almost called 'James and the Giant Cherry'
The inspiration for the giant peach came from a cherry tree in the orchard at Roald Dahl’s Buckinghamshire countryside home. He began to wonder what would happen if one of the cherries kept growing and growing – and growing! He considered several different giant fruits but eventually settled on the idea of a giant peach.
2. Roald Dahl had never written for children before
James and the Giant Peach was Roald Dahl’s first conscious attempt to write for children, having spent several years previously writing short stories for adults. He began writing it in 1959.
3. There have been a few different covers over the years
The original first edition of the book was released in 1961. It featured illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert and was her first illustration work. Quentin Blake re-illustrated the story in 1995!
4. Roald Dahl liked the idea of creepy crawlies as characters
Roald Dahl decided to write about insects as he felt all the interesting animals had already been written about by Beatrix Potter or A. A. Milne. He reportedly told his daughter, Ophelia, 'There seemed to be jolly little that had not been written about, except maybe little things like earthworms and centipedes and spiders.'
5. James has been immortalised in LEGO bricks
In 2017, to celebrate Roald Dahl Day, LEGO created giant statues of Roald Dahl’s characters. James took 160 hours to build and was displayed at Cardiff Castle.
6. One of the characters makes an interesting cameo in a well-known movie...
The 1996 movie adaptation features a group of skeleton pirates in place of Roald Dahl’s original Cloud Men. If you look closely, the Pirate Captain bears a strong resemblance to Jack Skellington, from Tim Burton’s movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is because the same interchangeable head was used for both puppets!
7. Centipede is a few legs short of a hundred
Centipede may be prone to exaggeration, he might boast that he has one hundred feet – but he’s actually only got forty-two!
For 2018 only, James and the Giant Peach comes with fuzzy bug stickers inside and for bug adventurers, there’s a new activity book, James Giant Bug Book!