Rate the Cover: James and the Giant Peach

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on February 3, 2011

Since JATGP became standard reading fare in the early ’60s, there have been plenty of illustrations and covers and art students attempt to capture the essence of James and his over-sized fruit to choose from. Three, though, stand out as the most iconic of Dahl’s vision.

Little known fact: Roald Dahl’s James and Giant Peach was originally going to be entitled James and the Giant Cherry, but Dahl edited the title to peach because a peach is “prettier, bigger and squishier than a cherry.”

Which one is, in your opinion, the face of James and the Giant Peach?

Nancy Burkert, Alfred Knopf 1961

Nancy Burkert James and the Giant peach cover

Nancy Burkert James and the Giant Peach

Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s first notable illustrations were for the first edition of JATGP, which launched her career as an artist and children’s book illustrator.

Pencil, charcoal, colored pencil, watercolor, pen.

Quentin Blake, Puffin 2005

quentin blake james and the giant peach cover

Quentin blake james and the giant peach

Quentin Blake and Roald Dahl go hand in hand. Blake has illustrated more of Dahl’s novels than any other artist, including Matilda, Charlie and Chocolate Factory, and The Witches.

Pen, ink, watercolor.

Lane Smith, Puffin 1996

Lane smith James and the Giant Peach

Lane smith james and the giant peach

Perhaps best known for his relationship with Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith illustrated an edition of JATGP in the mid-90s and later become the art director for Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the work.

Charcoal pencil, sheer brilliance.

Which one is your favorite?

For your perusing

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February 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm

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Anna March 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I have a soft spot for the one I had as a kid – purchased through the scholastic book club (which was my obsession) – in 1988. I don’t actually remember any illustrations inside, but I remember the cover vividly.

Now that I see Nancy E-B’s illustrations I’m blown away. I’m going to have to find a copy of that one!

Mary Pond August 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Nancy Burkert ‘s illustration is far superior! The detail of each and every item in her illustration is so amazing! Her illustration gives out all the feelings and emotions James has even before you read the first word. I feel like I’m right there on top of the peach flying away! The first year I taught shool in 1972, I read parts everyday of James and the Giant Peach. I was so very lucky to have the first version that was illustrated by Nancy Burkert. The children enjoyed both the illustrations and the story as I did, but I also really appreciated and admirerd Nancy’s illustrations also.

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