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James and His Giant Peach Turn 50!

Today, September 13th,  has been declared Roald Dahl Day in honor of the author’s birthday, and this year also marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of James and the Giant Peach. Penguin Young Readers Group has rolled out an interactive site, filled with activities, games, and opportunities to send a “Peach-gram” that will help keep a virtual peach rolling around the world, and Quentin Blake, illustrator of recent editions of Dahl’s books, will hold a live webcast on September 28th. All of the fanfare is fun, and it’s also made me curious about the many ways that James and his wondrous fruit world have been portrayed over the decades.

Here’s a wonderful UK cover, with Blake’s illustrations:

Lane Smith created this image for a 1996 edition, which came out at the same time as the stop-motion animation film, for which he was the art director:

A few illustrators have posted original images of James and his peach-mates on their blogs.

Here’s one from artist Jed Smith, from an interesting  blog post:

And here’s another one from illustrator Winnie Rose Reyes, also from a blog post:

My own childhood copy (so thoroughly loved and loaned out that its pages have nearly decomposed into compost), features Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s ethereal images, which illustrated the original 1961 edition. Here’s one of my favorites:

We’d like to hear your own stories about sharing and enjoying this classic. And why not read it aloud during Banned Books Week (September 24–October 1)? Between 1990–2000, James and the Giant Peach was ranked #56 on the list of the decade’s most frequently banned books 

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