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James and the Giant Peach, a Roald Dahl classic, is a favorite in our households, ever since the kids had it read to them in school. The screen adaptation is just as grand as the novel and our kids were entranced even though they already knew the storyline. James, a young English boy, lives happily in a seaside town with his parents, dreaming of a vacation to New York City. All is well, until his parents are eaten by a ferocious rhino and he is sent to be raised by two extremely unpleasant aunts. One day, a man offers James a bag of enchanted crocodile tongues that can make his dreams come true. James spills the bag at the bottom of a decrepit tree where, magically, a luscious peach grows. And grows. And grows. Eventually, the giant peach falls from the tree, rolls to the sea and carries James and a group of friendly insects across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Our kids laughed aloud at James' fantastic adventures on the high seas and cheered when those nasty aunts got their just desserts. You can bet it wasn't peach pie!
The current vogue among green-thinking foodies is to eat only local produce -- quite a radical concept for Angelenos who are used to finding perfectly ripened blueberries year round in our grocery aisles. All the delicious summer fruits are coming into season, and because our kids know very little about wrestling fruit from the vine, we thought it would be a wonderful end-of-school treat to pick cherries as a family. We turned to a Kids Off The Couch subscriber who has been taking her kids to Hobart's Cherry Orchard, an organic cherry orchard in the Leona Valley, for the past ten years. We learned that the cherry picking season is going to be woefully short this year because of a winter drought, so are planning to head north in early June. The valley, which has at least 22 cherry orchards, is about an hour's drive north from The Getty Center. Our insider's scoop is to arrive early, wear old clothes, and most importantly, bring along a large cooler to bring home your bounty! With all her kids' hands on deck, our friend can gather between 10 and 20 pounds of fruit in a few hours. After her kids' faces are happily covered in cherry juice, she freezes the left-overs to munch on during off-season months (see below for tips on cherry pitters). Before you leave the orchard, remember to fill out a post card, so you can be notified when the fruit ripens next season.
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this film:
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom for talking to your kids about this film:
Cherry Picking in Leona Valley
Hobart's Cherry Orchard
You Pick Organic Sweet and Sour Cherries
40121 95th Street West
Leona Valley, CA 93551
Age Recommendation: Toddlers to teens
Time Allotment: Half a day with driving
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Popcorn Adventure:
Our tips for other fruit picking around Los Angeles: