First edition cover
|Publisher||Jonathan Cape (original)
Penguin Books (current)
The BFG (short for "Big Friendly Giant") is a 1982 children's book written by 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 age seven in 1962.
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. A live-action adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg is currently in production with a release date of July 2016.
- Sophie: The protagonist of the story, who becomes an international heroine.
- The BFG: A 24-foot-tall individual 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'.
- The Queen of England: based on Elizabeth II.
- Mary: The Queen's Maid
- Mr. Tibbs: The Palace butler
- Mrs. Clonkers: The unseen director of the orphanage in which Sophie lives at the start of the novel; described as cruel to her charges.
- Head of the Army: a bombastic officer answering to the Queen.
- Head of the Air Force: a second, equally bombastic officer.
- King of Sweden: Sometimes called the Queen of Sweden in play versions
- Sultan of Baghdad
- Monsieur Papillon: The Queen's chief cook.
- Nine anthropophagus giants, each approx. 50 ft. tall and proportionately broad and powerful:
- The Manhugger
- The Meatdripper
- The Childchewer
- The Butcher Boy
- The Bloodbottler
- The Maidmasher
- The Fleshlumpeater
- The Bonecruncher
- The Gizzardgulper
The story follows a young orphaned girl named Sophie, living in a girl's orphanage run by the cantankerous Mrs. Clonkers. One night, Sophie sees a cloaked giant blowing something via a trumpet-like object into a bedroom window down the street; whereupon the giant carries her to his homeland of Giant Country. There, he identifies himself as the Big Friendly Giant ('BFG'), who nightly blows bottled dreams into the bedrooms of children, and explains the other type of giants that eat humans, mostly children. Because the BFG refuses to eat people or steal food from humans, he subsists on a foul-tasting vegetable known as a snozzcumber.
Sophie and the BFG quickly become friends; but Sophie is soon put in danger by the sudden arrival of the Bloodbottler Giant, who suspects the BFG of harboring Sophie. Sophie hides in the snozzcumber, unknown to the BFG, and the BFG offers the snozzcumber to the Bloodbottler, hoping that its foul taste will repel him from the area; whereupon the Bloodbottler spits out the snozzcumber and Sophie, and leaves in disgust. When Sophie announces she is thirsty, the BFG treats her to a fizzy drink called frobscottle, which causes noisy flatulence: this is known as Whizzpopping. The next morning, the BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country to catch more dreams, but is tormented by the other giants along the way; notably by their leader, the Fleshlumpeater, the largest and most fearsome.
In Dream Country, the BFG demonstrates his dream-catching skills to Sophie; but the BFG mistakenly captures a nightmare, and uses it to start a fight among the other giants. Sophie later persuades him to approach the Queen of England toward imprisoning the other giants. To this end, the BFG creates a nightmare, introducing knowledge of the man-eating giants to the Queen, and leaves Sophie in the Queen's bedroom to confirm it. Because the dream included the knowledge of Sophie's presence, the Queen believes her and speaks with the BFG.
After considerable effort by the palace staff to create a table, chair, and cutlery of appropriate size, the BFG is given a lavish breakfast, and the Queen telephones the King of Sweden and the Sultan of Baghdad to confirm the BFG's story – the giants having visited those locations on the previous two nights – then summons the Head of the British Army and the Marshal of the Royal Air Force. The said officers, though initially belligerent and skeptical, eventually agree to cooperate. Eventually, a fleet of helicopters follows the BFG to the giants' homeland, where the giants are tied up, suspended under the helicopters, and carried to England, where they are imprisoned in a pit. The only one not easily caught is the Fleshlumpeater; but he is soon tricked into allowing his own capture.
Afterwards, a huge castle is built as the BFG's new house, with a little cottage next door for Sophie. While they are living happily in England, the BFG writes a book of their adventures, which is then identified as the novel itself.
Awards and recognition
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 and the 1991 Read Alone and Read Aloud BILBY Awards.
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.
- ISBN 0-224-02040-4 (hardcover, 1982)
- ISBN 0-374-30469-6 (hardcover, 1982)
- ISBN 0-590-06019-8 (paperback, 1982)
- ISBN 0-435-12279-7 (hardcover, 1984)
- ISBN 0-14-031597-7 (paperback, 1984)
- ISBN 0-14-034019-X (paperback, 1985)
- ISBN 1-85715-924-1 (hardcover, 1993)
- ISBN 0-679-42813-5 (hardcover, 1993)
- ISBN 0-14-130105-8 (paperback, 1998)
- ISBN 0-14-130283-6 (paperback, 1999)
- ISBN 0-14-131137-1 (paperback, 2001)
- ISBN 0-224-06452-5 (hardcover, 2002)
- ISBN 978-0-14-241038-7 / ISBN 0-14-241038-1 (paperback, 2007)
- ISBN 0-141-33216-6 (audio CD read by Natasha Richardson)
- ISBN 84-320-6178-6 (El gran gigante Bonachón, Spanish, 1984)
- ISBN 3-498-01250-9 (Sophiechen und der Riese, German, 1984)
- ISBN 88-7782-004-7 (Il GGG, Italian, 1987)
- ISBN 2-07-051372-6 (Le bon gros géant, French, 1988)
- ISBN 0-624-03190-X (Die GSR: die groot sagmoedige reus, Afrikaans, 1993)
- ISBN 1-904357-03-2 (Yr CMM: yr èc èm èm, Welsh, 2003)
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.
Producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy began development for a big budget adaptation of The BFG in 1991, and set the project up with Paramount Pictures. Husband and wife screenwriters Robin Swicord and Nicholas Kazan wrote a screenplay adaptation in 1998, with Robin Williams in mind for the title role. By 2001, the script had been rewritten by Gwyn Lurie, which was greeted with positive feedback from the Dahl estate.
In September 2011 it was announced that DreamWorks Pictures had picked up the film rights with Melissa Mathison adapting a new script. In April 2014, Steven Spielberg was announced to direct the film, shooting in 2015 with plans for a 2016 release. Spielberg stated, "The BFG has enchanted families and their children for more than three decades. We are honoured that the Roald Dahl estate has entrusted us with this classic story." Mark Rylance will star in the title role. The film will be co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, DreamWorks, Amblin Entertainment, Walden Media, and Reliance Entertainment, and will be released on July 1, 2016.
- Singh, Anita (7 August 2010) "Roald Dahl's secret notebook reveals heartbreak over daughter's death". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "BFG at the theatre- Preview". digyorkshire.com. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- "Sophiechen und der Riese" (in German). Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. 1985. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- "Previous Winners of the BILBY Awards: 1990 – 96" (PDF). The Children's Book Council of Australia Queensland Branch. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
- National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Bird, Elizabeth (7 July 2012). "Top 100 Chapter Book Poll Results". A Fuse #8 Production. Blog. School Library Journal (blog.schoollibraryjournal.com). Retrieved 19 August 2012.
- Samuel French. Accessed October 26, 2015
- Glenn Whipp (February 17, 2009). "Frank Marshall focuses on practical". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Staff (October 22, 1998). "'Husband' vows renewed; doc on saint set". Variety. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Dana Harris (February 27, 2002). "Lurie back to book for 'Chocolate' pic". Retrieved March 18, 2015.
- Weinstein, Joshua L. (24 September 2011). "DreamWorks Is Still Buying – Picks Up Roald Dahl's 'BFG' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Bullock, Paul (26 April 2014). "Steven Spielberg to direct The BFG". Retrieved 26 April 2014.
- "Steven Spielberg to direct BFG film from Roald Dahl book". BBC News. Retrieved 29 April 2014
- McNary, Dave (16 June 2014). "Tom Hanks-Steven Spielberg Cold War Thriller Set for Oct. 16, 2015". Variety. Retrieved 6 June 2014.