I know Roald Dahl as a prolific author of children’s fiction books such Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, The BFG, Esio Trot and lots more. He has sold over 250 million books worldwide. Despite his massive success, I was unaware that he had also published 18 books for adults, several non-fiction books (including Boy: Tales of Childhood – the first part of his autobiography) and 3 poetry books for children; some 49 books published in total from 1943 to 2016 (some published after his death in 1990, aged 74).
Revolting Rhymes is one of his poetry books for children, first published in 1982. When I hear poetry book, I wrongly think of something stuffy and boring – poetry really isn’t my thing. But then this is Roald Dahl, the author of fun books for children, also a spy, an ace fighter pilot, a chocolate historian and a medical inventor, and Revolting Rhymes is anything but a stuffy and boring book of poetry – it takes classic fairy tales and turns them on the head creating twisted and fun rhymes.
Revolting Rhymes features 6 classic fairy tales reworked by Dahl:
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
- The Three Little Pigs
Revolting Rhymes is a short collection of rhymes that are not for the easily offended. The rhymes are not sugar-coated or sanitised (as they would be today) and there is an odd bit of colourful language with the use of the word slut in Cinderella, and violence (heads being chopped off, people being eaten). The rhymes are distinctly different from Dahl’s other children’s books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Danny, Champion of the World. The first line of the book is from Cinderella and reads “I guess you think you know this story, you don’t, the real one’s much more gory”, so gives a slight insight into the way the book will go.
Goldilocks changes from a sweet fairy tale, into a house breaking thief and vandal, and if you know the original story, I guess that is actually what she is, she entered the house of the three bears without permission, stole their food and broke their furniture! Little Red Riding Hood even pulls a pistol from her knickers!
The rhyming text is beautiful, and the use of language is excellent; dark, twisted and humorous but all the rhymes have a happy ending in a weird sort of way. It has been illustrated by Quentin Blake.
The ebb and flow of the rhymes are brilliant, filled with dark humour, but the rhymes may scare younger children with Prince Charming beheading the Ugly Sisters and Little Red with her deadly shot.
Dahl’s surreal and dark humour really comes through, and whilst this collection of rhymes might scare younger children, it will definitely delight older kids and adults. It is just a pity that the book is only 62 pages in length, one of Dahl’s shortest books.
If you are a fan of Roald Dahl and want to give this to your children to read, I would suggest reading it first to make sure that you approve of some of the language and themes used.
RRP: £7.99 (Hardback) / £5.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)