By Jeff Labrecque
Updated December 16, 2014 at 02:56 PM EST
Paul Worpole

Steven Spielberg has launched the careers of numerous famous child actors, including Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Christian Bale. Ruby Barnhill is about to join that exclusive club.

The 10-year-old Brit has been cast as Sophie, the young London girl who is the main character in Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book, The BFG. “After a lengthy search, I feel Roald Dahl himself would have found Ruby every bit as marvelous as we do,” Spielberg said in a statement.

Barnhill joins Mark Rylance, who will play the giant. Though she’s acted for two years, The BFG will be her first film role.

The BFG is Dahl’s 1982 story about a mysterious Big Friendly Giant who befriends a lonely orphan girl. Dahl, who also penned James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, considered The BFG his personal favorite book that he wrote.

Melissa Mathison, who wrote E.T. and The Black Stallion, wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, and production on The BFG will begin in early 2015. Disney will release the film on July 1, 2016.