Review of the BFG by Roald Dahl

December 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The BFG by Roald DahlThe BFG
By Roald Dahl; Read by David Walliams
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 24 June 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 4 hours, 25 minutes

Themes: / fantasy / giants / children /

Publisher summary:

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants – rather than the BFG – she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

The BFG is classic Roald Dahl: a blend of lighthearted playfulness and bone-crunching, child-munching wickedness.

The story is about a gentle 20-foot-tall giant who lives in Giant Country with a bunch of other giants. The BFG taught himself English by reading Charles Dickens, and he mangles language in beautiful ways: “What I mean and what I say is two different things.”

The other giants, who have adorable names like Bloodbottler, Meatdripper, Childchewer, and Bonecruncher, are all much bigger than the BFG (“at least two times my wideness and double my royal highness!”) and bully him for being vegetarian. While they eat humans of various nationalities (like people from Turkey, who apparently taste like turkey, or people from Jersey, who taste of cardigans), the BFG eats only a disgusting vegetable called a snozzcumber. As he says, “I squoggle it! I mispise it! I dispunge it! But because I is refusing to gobble up human beans like the other giants, I must spend my life guzzling up icky-poo snozzcumbers instead! If I don’t, I will be nothing but skin and groans.”

The story starts when the BFG befriends a little human girl named Sophie, who he takes home with him to Giant Country, where he must hide her from the meaner giants who would eat her on sight. Together, the BFG and Sophie decide to try putting a stop to the terrible child-guzzling that’s been going on.

The narrator David Walliams did such an awesome job with the voices, from Sophie’s soft feminine inflections to the BFG’s indignant horror and naive befuddlement with humankind’s weird ways. It must have been difficult to perform the BFG’s dialogue with all the backwards idioms and inside-out clichés and weird pronunciations, but somehow Williams makes it all flow seamlessly and naturally.

The audio production is also something special, with all kinds of sound effects in the background: bubbling and burping and scraping and gurgling. These special effects didn’t seem intrusive to me at all (despite preferring straight readings usually), and seem to fit perfectly with Roald Dahl’s storytelling style.

Everything else aside, the BFG character alone makes this story worth listening to. How can you not love a creature whose ears are so sensitive he can hear the faraway music of the stars, and who desperately wants to learn how to “make an elephant” so he can ride it around, picking peachy fruits off the trees all day long!

Posted by Marissa van Uden

Review of Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

July 12, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil GaimanOdd and the Frost Giants
By Neil Gaiman; Read by Neil Gaiman
Audible Download – Approx. 1 Hour 46 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Children’s Audio
Published: September 2009
Provider: Audible.com
Themes: / Fantasy / giants / Scandinavia / Norse mythology / winter /

Odd (a Scandinavian name meaning tip of the blade) is a boy living in long ago Scandinavia. After his father dies, he is accidentally crippled, his mother remarries a bully, and winter extends into the months of spring, Odd’s life doesn’t seem as if it can get worse. Odd decides to go live in his father’s cabin in the woods. An otherworldly adventure begins when a fox fetches him to rescue a bear whose paw is stuck in a tree.

This charming, simple story takes us into the world of Norse mythology, acting almost as a primer on the characters of Thor, Loki, Odin, and Freya. And, of course, we learn about the Frost Giants. Written for younger children, it is nevertheless a fresh, well paced story that held my interest quite well. It could well interest readers enough to explore the Nordic myths for themselves. Above all, it is the story of a gentle, kind, intelligent boy who has had terrible events in his life but who does not let those events define how his attitude toward life.

The audiobook was read by author Neil Gaiman who, as always, does his story full justice. He has a particular talent with using accents to define character that is a joy to hear. There is also something wonderful in hearing an author read his work so that listeners know just how he imagined it.

Neil Gaiman is a master story teller and this tale, no matter what the intended age, is enchanting. Recommended for younger readers and the young at heart.

Posted by Julie D.

Review of Farmer Giles of Ham & Other Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien

October 7, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
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Fantasy Audiobook - Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. TolkienFarmer Giles of Ham & Other Stories
By J.R.R. Tolkien; Read by Derek Jacobi
2 Cassettes – 3 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: 1999
ISBN: 0001056107
Themes: / Fantasy / Dragons / Giants / Magic / Humor / Art /

*Includes three tales from The Perilous Realm:

Farmer Giles of Ham
One of Tolkien’s most popular stories. Full of wit and humor and set in the days of giants and dragons, it tells the tale of a reluctant hero Farmer Giles, his grey mare, and his talking dog Garm, who all three conspire to save Ham and the middle kingdom first from the a deaf giant and again from the dreaded dragon Chrysophylax.

Smith of Wootton Major
Tells of baking a Great Cake to mark the Feast of Good Children and the magical events that follow.

Leaf by Niggle
Recounts the adventures of a painter trying to capture a tree on canvas.

A wonderful treat for the lovers of Tolkien. Though far overshadowed by his stories about Hobbits and rings the author of The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit also wrote some great short stories, and here they are! Three amusing and interesting stories, by the greatest English fantasist since William Shakespeare. If you enjoyed The Lord Of The Rings for more than the battle scenes you should definietly try this two little cassette package on for size. Performed by Sir Derek Jacobi, best known for his role in “I, Claudius”, this is a skillful reading that transforms each character into a person, even the dog in the title story has his own voice. Jacobi captured my attention fully, I was really delighted to have a performer of such skill as his read it to me. Worth hunting down!

Posted by Jesse Willis