There are lots of children’s authors that write some very good stories, but when thinking of truly great children’s authors there are only a few that immediately spring to mind. One such author is Roald Dahl. Young or old, most people will have heard of him, have read his books, are stilling reading his books or at the very least, watched the films based on his books. A prolific writer who had 49 books published including 21 novels for children and 3 books of poetry for children.
Revolting Rhymes was the first poetry book for children that Dahl wrote, he published it in 1982, and in my opinion is the best of the three. In 1983 he published the second book of poetry, Dirty Beasts. I am not a real big fan of poetry by was really impressed with Revolting Rhymes so was looking forward to Dirty Beasts.
Dirty Beasts is poetry, but not as dark, gruesome and fun as Revolting Rhymes which is based on classic nursery rhymes, and I would say Dirty Beasts is much more child friendly (although some of the child eating rhymes could scare younger children, but I don’t think that they are really any worse than fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood eating grandma). It is made up poems about nine different filthy beasts over its 72 pages:
- The Pig
- The Crocodile
- The Lion
- The Scorpion
- The Anteater
- The Porcupine
- The Cow
- The Toad and the Snail
- The Tummy Beast
The rhymes are funny and naughty but not rude or frightening. The poems feature a pig with a massive brain that has managed to figure out the meaning of his life and decides to take pre-emptive action, a crocodile that eats children, a lion discussing his favourite meat, a scorpion that loves to sting, an anteater that finds a tasty big snack, a porcupine that is not a seat, a cow that flies and ‘pats’ you on the head, a toad and snail that can travels miles in one leap but doesn’t want to be eaten when visiting France and a tummy monster that just wants to be fed.
Overall, Dirty Beasts is a very good book of rhyming poetry about a variety of animals that children will adore. Written with Dahl’s unique style and dark humour. The poems vary in length with some quite short and others being long tales.
Dahl is a master storyteller, and his use of the English language makes these poems good to read and are told in a way that children will enjoy and understand with people-eating, people-stinging and people-pooping dirty beasts. My favourite rhyme has to The Tummy Master about a child trying to convince his mother that he needs more snacks to feed the monster that lives in his tummy (I think we have one of those in our house).
Quentin Blake has expertly illustrated the filthy beasts featured in the book, bringing them to life in his own unique style.
Dirty Beasts is a good book to introduce kids to poetry using slightly scary animals and disgusting animals, told using Dahl’s uniquely dark humour.
RRP: £7.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)