Roald Dahl’s The Twits was first published in 1980 and starts with the line “What a lot of hairy-faced men there are around nowadays.” Did you know that Roald Dahl hated beards? Fast-forward 42 years and he could still be asking the same question, leaving you asking the same question he poses in the book about cleanliness – how do they keep all that hair clean and how often? Shampoo, trimmers, barbers or DIY job? Luckily enough we are not here to answer those questions.
Why are hairy-faced men the topic of discussion anyway? Well, Mr Twit is one of those people. And how often does Mr Twit wash his hairy face? Never, not in years. How totally disgusting (look closely and you will see untold years’ worth of stuck food in his hairy beard). He really is a foul and smelly man. And Mrs Twit really isn’t much better except that she doesn’t have a beard but could probably benefit from one – it might distract attention from her glass eye that is always looking in the other direction. One of Dahl’s best quotes about beauty on the inside comes from The Twits.
As you may have gathered, the disgusting, smelly and unwashed Mr and Mrs Twit are not the nicest of people. They are always fighting and playing nasty tricks on each other – from wormy spaghetti to frogs in beds. You wouldn’t want to go near their house as they hate children and Mrs Twit just loves to whack them with her walking stick.
One thing The Twits enjoy as a team is Bird Pie – Mr Twit catches the birds and Mrs Twit bakes them into a pie. Every week Mr Twit paints really strong glue on the Big Dead Tree in their garden to catch the birds.
If that wasn’t enough, they keep a family of monkeys, the Muggle-Wump monkeys, locked in a cage in the garden and force them to stand for hours on the heads!
But as with all vile people, sooner or later they will get their comeuppance. The Roly-Poly Bird is on holiday from Africa and happens to speak to the Muggle-Wump monkeys. Muggle-Wump gets the Roly-Poly Bird to speak to all the other birds telling them not to land in the tree and become an essential ingredient of The Twits bird pie. Then Muggle-Wump comes up with a plan of his own to teach The Twits a lesson.
Overall, The Twits is a really fun and enjoyable book even though it is filled with dark humour. Never have the villains in a book been so loved and hated at the same time and cheered when they get what they truly deserve.
The Twits must be the vilest characters to have ever been written in a children’s book and their contempt for each other just leaps out of the pages. But it works and their antics makes a fun story that will leave readers, young and old, with a big smile on their faces.
The humour in the book is excellent and readers will definitely laugh along with the silly, petty and spiteful antics of The Twits. The story is well-written, easy to read and the made up words Dahl is renowned for just add another dimension to the story that fit it extremely well.
The illustrations are excellent and really help tell the story. Quentin Blake has done an excellent job, as always.
This is a fun and enjoyable book that readers will just love the silliness of. Under the silliness is also a message of how being rude, horrible and unkind will see you pay for it in the long run and that kindness is the way to go – good will always triumph over evil.
RRP: £6.99 (Paperback) / £0.99 (Kindle)