The BFG (short for The 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. As of 2009, the novel has sold 37 million copies in UK ions alone, with more than 1 million copies sold around the world every year.
The start of the book begins with an eight-year-old orphan girl named Sophie lying in bed in an orphanage. She cannot sleep, and sees a strange sight in the street; a giant man, carrying a bag and an odd trumpet. He sees Sophie, who tries to hide in bed, but the giant picks her up through the window. Then he runs incredibly fast to 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, while people from Panama taste of hats. The giant then says that he will not eat her, as he is the BFG, or the Big Friendly Giant.
The BFG explains that she must stay with him forever, as no one can know of his existence. He warns her of the dangers of leaving his cave, as his nine neighbours are sure to eat her if they catch her. He 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 eats the only edible plant that will grow in the giants' homeland: snozzcumbers, which are disgusting striped warty cucumber-like vegetables with wart-like growths that taste like frog skins and rotten fish to Sophie and cockroaches and slime wanglers to the BFG. Another giant, the Bloodbottler, then storms in. Sophie hides in a snozzcumber and is nearly accidentally eaten by the Bloodbottler. Bloodbottler luckily spits her out and then leaves in disgust. When Sophie announces she is thirsty, the BFG treats her to a fizzy soda pop drink called "frobscottle" which causes noisy flatulence because of the bubbles sinking downwards. The BFG calls this "Whizzpopping". The next morning, the BFG takes Sophie to Dream Country to catch more dreams, but is tormented by the man-eating giants along the way, notably by their leader the Fleshlumpeater, the largest and most fearsome of the giants.
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 when Fleshlumpeater has a nightmare about Jack. Sophie later persuades him to approach the Queen of England about imprisoning the other giants. To this end, she uses her knowledge of London to navigate the BFG to Buckingham Palace, and the BFG creates a nightmare for the Queen, which describes the man-eating giants, 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.
A fleet of helicopters then follows Sophie and the BFG to the giants' homeland, where the giants are tied up as they sleep, and the helicopters carry them back to London where they are imprisoned in a 500 feet (150 m) deep pit with sheer walls and a high safety fence. The BFG is lowered in to untie them; untying Fleshlumpeater last, he explains why they are being imprisoned. Outraged, Fleshlumpeater roars that they will devour the BFG instead, but he is hoisted out to safety. The man-eating giants find themselves being only fed snozzcumbers. On one occasion, though, there is an incident where three drunken men climb over the fence surrounding the pit, fall in, and are eaten by the giants.
Sophie: The imaginative, creative and kind-hearted protagonist of the story who becomes a brave international heroine. Named after Dahl's feisty kind-hearted mother. Portrayed by Amanda Root in the 1989 film, and Ruby Barnhill in the 2016 film.
The BFG: A friendly 24-foot-tall giant who has superhuman hearing 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: The British 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.
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.
Nine Man-Eating Giants: Each man-eating giant is about 50-feet-tall and proportionately broad and powerful and they only wear skirt-like coverings around their waists. According to the BFG the flavours of the humans that the man-eating giants dine on depends on their country of origin: Turks taste like turkey, Greeks are too greasy, people from Panama taste like hats, the Welsh taste like fish, 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 largest and 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 and also the smartest of the bunch. He 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: The shortest 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.
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.
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.
On 25 December 1989, ITV broadcast an animated film based on the book and produced by Cosgrove Hall Films on television, 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.