'James and the Giant Peach', a popular children's novel written by Roald Dahl, in 1961, is a bizarre story about James Henry Trotter, a 4 year-old, who lives with his parents until they are killed by an escaped rhinoceros.
Tales of cruelty, force feeding, and strange old men follow as James is forced to live with his two cruel aunts.
For three years, the poor kid is beaten for no apparent reason, improperly fed, and forced to sleep on bare floorboards in an attic. The inept Social Services, as usual, fail to intervene, and one summer afternoon, after more mistreatment, James stumbles across a strange old man, who gives him the recipe of a magic potion which, when consumed, will bring him happiness and great adventures. James spills the principal ingredients onto a barren peach tree, which then produces a single peach as large as a Tory mansion. The greedy and malicious aunts then sell tickets to neighbors for capitalist profit.
Aoibheann finds it a depressing little book, and is amazed it's so highly regarded as one of the must read children's books of all time. It's just filling children's heads with nonsense and the illusion of the happy-ever-after.
As any honest old person will tell you, there is no such thing as happy endings - especially when the Tories are in town - unless you have loving parents with a vast knowledge, wealth, ethics, a good DNA and an ability to instill a healthy lifestyle based on 'being' and not 'wanting'. Once any child has those beginings, he/she doesn't have to waste energy being concerned with poverty and parental abuse.