James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
James and the Giant Peach was Roald Dahl's first classic novel for children. Although The Gremlins is sometimes referred to as an earlier example of his writing for children, James was Roald's first conscious attempt to write for a younger audience after several years of writing primarily adult short stories. Roald started writing it in 1959 after encouragement from his agent, Sheila St Lawrence.
In the orchard at Roald's home in the Buckinghamshire countryside, there was a cherry tree. Seeing this tree made him wonder: what if, one day, one of those cherries just kept on and on growing bigger and bigger? From giant cherries Roald also considered ever-increasing pears and even apples, but eventually settled on a giant peach as the method for James's magical journey. The book is dedicated to his two eldest daughters, Olivia and Tessa. It was first published in 1961 to glowing reviews and marked the beginning of his prolific career as a children's author.
James and the Giant Peach is still a favourite more than 50 years later. In 1996, an animated film version featuring the voices of Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanna Lumley, Miriam Margolyes, Pete Postlethwaite and Susan Sarandon was released, while David Wood's theatrical adaptation remains popular, playing across the UK.