The BFG

Roald Dahl’s ‘wondercrump’ children’s book The BFG has delighted families for years. And this summer, an animated adaptation by Stephen Spielberg brought the magical adventures in Giant Country to life — complete with disgusting snozzcumbers, whizzpopping soda, and a visit to the Queen of England. But beneath the silliness lies a touching story about friendship, loneliness, and the difference between right and wrong.

Childhood

Like most of Roald Dahl’s best-loved novels, the hero of The BFG is a clever young child surrounded by cruel adults. And while Giant Country is dangerous for Sophie — the other giants do want to eat her after all — it also full of childlike wonder. How important are the lessons of childhood?

Loneliness

Despite appearances, Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant have a lot in common. They are both small (for their species) and bullied by the people around them. But most of all, they are lonely — a feeling that almost all of us have identified with at one time or another.

Language

‘I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiff-squiddled around,’ says the BFG. His funny way of speaking makes for some delightful wordplay — and although Sophie finds it confusing at first, she soon grows to love it. Whoopsey-splunkers!

Friendship

Despite the small matter of her kidnapping, Sophie and the BFG soon hit it off. They protect and encourage each other, and together they solve problems far bigger than their small size.

Good and bad

Sophie is understandably indignant that the other giants are eating children. But it is not as simple as giants-good-humans-bad, as the BFG points out. He would be captured and put in a zoo if humans found out about him. And humans kill far more of their own kind than giants do.