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The BFG (Dahl novel - cover art).jpg
First edition cover
Author Roald Dahl
Original title THE BFG
Illustrator Quentin Blake
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's
Published 1982 Jonathan Cape (original)
Penguin Books (current)
Media type Paperback
Pages 208
ISBN 0-224-02040-4

The BFG (short for "Big Friendly Giant") is a 1982 children's book written by British novelist Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. It is an expansion of a short story from Dahl's 1975 book Danny, the Champion of the World. The book is dedicated to Dahl's late daughter, Olivia, who died of measles encephalitis at the age of seven in 1962.[1] As of 2009, the novel has sold 37 million copies in UK editions alone.[2]

An animated television adaptation was released in 1989 with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. It has also been adapted as a theatre performance.[3] A theatrical live-action adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg was released in 2016.


As the book starts, a young girl named Sophie lies in bed in an orphanage. She can’t sleep, and sees a strange sight in the street. A giant man is walking in the street, carrying a suitcase and what looks like a trumpet. He sees Sophie, who runs to her bed and tries to hide. This doesn’t work, and the giant picks her up through the window. Then, he starts to run incredibly fast, until he reaches a large cave, which he enters.

When he sets Sophie down, she begins to plead for her life, believing that the giant will eat her. The giant laughs, and explains that most giants do eat human beings, and that the people’s origins affect their taste. For example, people from Greece taste greasy. The giant then says that he will not eat her, as he is the BFG, or the Big Friendly Giant.

The BFG then explains that he must stay with her forever, as no one can know of his existence. He warns her of the dangers of leaving his cave, as his neighbors are sure to eat her if they catch her. The BFG then explains what he was doing with the trumpet and suitcase. He catches dreams, stores them in the cave, and then gives the good ones to children all around the world. He destroys the bad ones. The BFG then explains that he only eats snozzcumbers, which are disgusting vegetables that taste of frogskins. Another giant, the Bloodbottler, then storms in. Sophie hides in a snozzcumber and is nearly eaten by the Bloodbottler.

After this, Sophie and the BFG vow to make the other giants disappear. The BFG and Sophie then partake in some frobscottle, which is a carbonated liquid that causes extreme flatulence. After this, the two go to Dream Country to catch some dreams and the BFG shows Sophie his collection of dreams. Later, Sophie has an idea on how to beat the other giants. She has the BFG give the Queen of England a dream that shows the malevolent giants. This frightens the Queen and wakes her up, at which point Sophie explains that her dream was real. The Queen then vows to help the two.

With other countries' assistance, they construct a giant pit. With the BFG’s help, they lure the other giants into the trap, where they can’t eat anyone else. Instead, they must eat snozzcumbers. At the end, it is revealed that the BFG and Sophie live in a mansion, where Sophie is teaching the BFG how to read and write, and the BFG is actually writing the book.


  • Sophie: The imaginative and kind-hearted protagonist of the story who becomes a brave international heroine. Portrayed by Amanda Root in the 1989 film, and Ruby Barnhill in the 2016 film.
  • The BFG: A friendly, benevolent, gentle, sweet 24-foot-tall giant who has superhuman hearing abilities and immense speed. His primary occupation is the collection and distribution of good dreams to children. He also appears in another novel, Danny, the Champion of the World, in which he is introduced as a folkloric character. His name is an initialism of 'Big Friendly Giant.' Portrayed by David Jason in the 1989 film and Mark Rylance in the 2016 film.
  • The Queen of England: The English monarch. Firm, bold, and ladylike she plays an important role in helping Sophie and the BFG. Portrayed by Angela Thorne in the 1989 film and by Penelope Wilton in the 2016 film.
  • Mary: The Queen's maid. Portrayed by Mollie Sugden in the 1989 film and by Rebecca Hall in the 2016 film.
  • Mr. Tibbs: The Queen's butler. Portrayed by Frank Thornton in the 1989 film and by Rafe Spall in the 2016 film.
  • Mrs. Clonkers: The unseen director of the orphanage in which Sophie lives at the start of the novel; described as cruel to her charges. Portrayed by Myfanwy Talog in the 1989 film and by Marilyn Norry in the 2016 film,.
  • The Heads of the Army and the Air-force: Two bombastic officers answering to the Queen. Portrayed by Michael Knowles & Ballard Berkeley in the 1989 film and by Chris Shields & Matt Frewer in the 2016 film.
  • Nine Man-Eating Giants: Each one is about 50-feet-tall and proportionately broad and powerful. According to the BFG about the flavors of the humans that the man-eating giants dine on, the Turkish taste like turkey, the Greeks are too greasy, people from Panama taste like hats, the Welsh taste fishy, the people from Jersey taste like cardigans, and the Danes taste like dogs.
    • The Fleshlumpeater: The leader of the other eight man-eating giants and the most horrible of the bunch. Voiced by Don Henderson in the 1989 film and motion-captured by Jemaine Clement in the 2016 film.
    • The Bloodbottler: Second in command to the Fleshlumpeater who is also the smartest of the bunch and has a fondness for the taste of human blood. Voiced by Don Henderson in the 1989 film and motion-captured by Bill Hader in the 2016 film.
    • The Manhugger: One of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Adam Godley in the 2016 film.
    • The Meatdripper: One of the nine man-eating giants. He pretends to be a tree in a park so that he can pick off the humans that go under him. Motion-captured by Paul Moniz de Sa in the 2016 film.
    • The Childchewer: One of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Jonathan Holmes in the 2016 film.
    • The Butcher Boy: The youngest of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Michael Adamthwaite in the 2016 film.
    • The Maidmasher: One of the nine man-eating giants. Motion-captured by Ólafur Ólafsson in the 2016 film.
    • The Bonecruncher: One of the nine man-eating giants who is known for crunching up two humans for dinner every night. He enjoys eating people from Turkey making him the picky eater of the bunch. Motion-captured by Daniel Bacon in the 2016 film.
    • The Gizzardgulper: One of the nine man-eating giants. He lies above the rooftops of the cities to grab people walking down the streets. Motion-captured by Chris Gibbs in the 2016 film.

References in Other Roald Dahl Books[edit]

The ending is almost the same as James and the Giant Peach, when he writes a story by himself, about himself. The two books end exactly the same way. Also Mr. Tibbs also relates to Mrs. Tibbs, the friend of Mr. Gilligrass , the U.S president in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

Awards and recognition[edit]

The BFG has won numerous awards including the 1985 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis as the year's best children's book, in its German translation Sophiechen und der Riese[4] and the 1991 Read Alone and Read Aloud BILBY Awards.[5]

In 2003 it was ranked number 56 in The Big Read, a two-stage survey of the British public by the BBC to determine the "Nation's Best-loved Novel".[6]

The U.S. National Education Association listed The BFG among the "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" based on a 2007 online poll.[7]

In 2012 it was ranked number 88 among all-time children's novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, a monthly with primarily U.S. audience. It was the fourth of four books by Dahl among the Top 100, more than any other writer.[8]



Selected translations[edit]


Comic strip[edit]

Between 1986 and 1998 the novel was adapted into a newspaper comic by journalist Brian Lee and artist Bill Asprey. It was published in the Mail on Sunday and originally a straight adaptation, with scripts accepted by Roald Dahl himself. After a while the comic started following its own storylines and continued long after Dahl's death in 1990. [21]

Stage play[edit]

The play was adapted for the stage by David Wood and premiered at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1991.[22]


1989 film[edit]

On Christmas Day in 1989, ITV aired an animated film based on the book, with David Jason providing the voice of the BFG and Amanda Root as the voice of Sophie. The film was dedicated to animator George Jackson who worked on numerous Cosgrove Hall Productions.

2016 film[edit]

A theatrical film adaptation was produced by Walt Disney Pictures, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Mark Rylance as the BFG, as well as, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, and Bill Hader. The film was released on 1 July 2016 to positive critical reception.


  1. ^ Singh, Anita (7 August 2010) "Roald Dahl's secret notebook reveals heartbreak over daughter's death". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  2. ^ BBC. "Whizzpoppingly wonderful fun in Watford!". Retrieved 24 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company presents The BFG". Retrieved 2016-06-30. 
  4. ^ "Sophiechen und der Riese" (in German). Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. 1985. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 
  5. ^ "Previous Winners of the BILBY Awards: 1990 – 96" (PDF). The Children's Book Council of Australia Queensland Branch. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  7. ^ National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (7 July 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal ( Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  9. ^ Dahl, Roald (1984). The BFG. Barcelona: Planeta. OCLC 23998903. 
  10. ^ Dahl, Roald (1984). Sophiechen und der Riese (in German). Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt. OCLC 12736090. 
  11. ^ Dahl, Roald (1984). Le bon gros géant: le BGG (in French). Paris: Gallimard. OCLC 462016766. 
  12. ^ Dahl, Roald (1985). オ・ヤサシ巨人BFG (O yasashi kyojin bīefujī) (in Japanese). Translated by Taeko Nakamura. Tokyo: Hyoronsha. OCLC 674384354. 
  13. ^ Dahl, Roald (1987). Il GGG (in Italian). Firenze: Salani. OCLC 797126304. 
  14. ^ Dahl, Roald (1993). Die GSR: die groot sagmoedige reus (in Afrikaans). Translated by Mavis De Villiers. [Kaapstad]: Tafelberg. OCLC 85935030.  Originally published by Jonathan Cape Ltd. as: The BFG
  15. ^ Dahl, Roald (1997). 내 친구 꼬마 거인 (Nae ch'in'gu kkoma kŏin) (in Korean). Translated by Hye-yŏn Chi. Ch'op'an. OCLC 936576155. 
  16. ^ Dahl, Roald. Gjiganti i madh i mirë (in Albanian [Ny utg.]). Translated by Naum Prifti. Çabej: Tiranë. OCLC 93920264. 
  17. ^ Dahl, Roald (2000). 好心眼儿巨人 (Hao xin yan er ju ren) (in Chinese). Translated by Rong Rong Ren. Ji nan: Ming tian Chu ban she. 
  18. ^ Dahl, Roald (2003). Yr CMM: yr èc èm èm (in Welsh). Hengoed: Rily. OCLC 55150213. 
  19. ^ Dahl, Roald (2005). Uriașul cel príetenos (in Romanian). Translated by Mădălina Monica Badea. București: RAO International. OCLC 63542578. 
  20. ^ Dahl, Roald (2016). BFG (in Polish). Translated by Katarzyna Szczepańska-Kowalczuk. Kraków: Społeczny Instytut Wydawniczy Znak. OCLC 956576565. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Samuel French. Accessed October 26, 2015