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Revolting Rhymes - Roald Dahl

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Author: Roald Dahl / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 04 September 2008 / Genre: Picture Books / Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd / Title: Revolting Rhymes / ISBN 13: 9780141501758 / ISBN 10: 0141501758 / Alternative EAN: 9780140568240

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    6 Reviews
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      02.02.2013 16:20
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      Fairy tales for those with a wicked sense of humour.

      We like books that are different - and enjoy those with a dark sense of humour. A number of people from a home ed group said this would suit us perfectly. A bit of further research showed this book appears regularly on banned books lists being considered "corrosive to young minds". So in other words - it was a perfect addition to my collection.

      In this book, Roald Dahl takes six traditional nursery tales and re invents them with his uniquely wicked wit. The stories are told in rhyme, and this has been described as poems about the fairy tale characters. This description is fair, but I would point out that these are complete stories as well - just told in a poetic style. I am not sure if doggerel is the correct term for these - they are crude and in a sense common - but they are also very well measured and flow perfectly. If you are used to modern sanitised fairy tales for children - you may be in for a shock. Not everyone lives happily ever after in this book and some very young children may be upset. I would suggest this book for ages 4-8, but of course it depends completely upon the child. Just be aware that there will be violence and death - as well as one word parents mightn't wish there little ones to repeat - "slut".
      The stories:

      Cinderella: This is my favourite. The original Cinderella was censored as unfit for children because it has some gory scenes with toes and heels being chopped off. Nothing like that in this story - instead it is heads being chopped off. But there is a bit of moral to this as the princess sees the princes true colours and wishes for a decent man instead. I'm afraid some women do grow up searching for Prince Charming - how much better to look for someone kind and decent instead.

      Jack and the Beanstalk: Not too much different from the original tale except that it is much more violent and Jack learns a lesson about taking baths.

      Snow White: A very modern twist on this story. There is no prince to save the day - Snow White relies on her own wit instead.

      Goldilocks and the Three Bears: This story describes Goldilocks as "a brazen little crook". She is crass and rude. She gobbles up the porridge, breaks Baby Bears chair - uttering a word so rude that the author states " I dare not write it, even hint it. Nobody would ever print it".

      Little Red Riding Hood: There is just a slight twist in this tale - Little Red keeps a loaded pistol safely tucked away inside her knickers. How does this change the outcome ? Read it yourself and find out.

      The Three Little Pigs: If you have the original Brothers Grimm tale - this one isn't too far off. It contains all of the violence and then some. Things really start to change when the wold can not get blow down the house of bricks. But if he can't blow it down - why not blow it up? Wolf threatens to get dynamite - and Pig calls Little Red.

      Illustrations: Our edition is printed on a smooth white paper with colour illustrations. These are somewhat roughly drawn, and without the colour, would be more of the type of illustration I would expect in a paperback chapter book, but they suit the story well, and I do feel the colour really is an improvement. Please be aware that other editions are only black and white line drawings.

      My Opinion: As an adult, I have to admit I found this book highly entertaining. It really is a funny twist on these traditional tales. There are certainly some aspects I can see might upset a younger child, and there is quite a lot of death, but it certainly makes its point. One thing I found unique about this book is the female characters. these are not damsels in distress awaiting a knight in shining armour. These are strong confident women - although one might qualify as a bit of a homicidal maniac. If you are tired of females being portrayed as the weaker sex in children's literature - you simply must give this a try.

      I do like the way this is told in rhyming format as well. I am aware how important rhyming is in reading development, but it is unusual to find a book with rhymes that will appeal to older children. As much as I like the inclusion of rhyme for educational purposes though, I do think the story comes first and have no use for books that sacrifice story line for rhyme. This does not. The story flows perfectly and the rhymes just add another touch.

      I do realise this book would not be suitable for all children. Some parents are going to be offended by the gratuitous levels of violence, others by the use of slightly offensive word. More importantly though - some children will be upset by the deaths of some characters, If you have read the traditional Brothers Grimm - this isn't much worse but if your child is young enough to be upset at storybook deaths - I would definitely recommend waiting on this one. There are several videos on you tube with these stories being read so if you wish to preview before buying - I suggest looking these up.

      My sons opinions: My children are ages 7 and 4. The oldest laughed his socks at a few points and certainly enjoyed the humour, but he has reached a stage where he rarely likes reading the same books over and over, so - he read it , it was grand, he is finished with it. My youngest did like some stories but he didn't really like the high level of death. he doesn't mind the bad guys getting killed, but even though he does understand this isn't real, he prefers for the good characters to survive. Nonetheless, he was delighted by references to knickers, and enjoyed the murder spree in one story as well. His favourite without a doubt though was Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and he will often read this one without the rest. The very best part of this story centers around dog poo. Poo is a perennial favourite in our home.

      Overall my sons would only give this 4 stars, but I am going to up this time to 5. I think underneath the poo, bloodshed and very naughty humour, there are some very real issues here which are addressed quite well, and I also value this book simply because it is unique.

      I do not normally include details like this as I feel you can look them up by clicking the Amazon link. In this case, the amazon link will take you to the black and white version - and I do feel the colour edition is better. This can be more difficult to find. I bought mine from ebay at roughly £2.50, and having just checked see a number of used copies @ £2.49 with free postage. However, I can not find this in paperback with Amazon but I do see a used hardcover version for £2.81. Our book is 7" x9", white with yellow trim and a yellow corner with a puffin.

      A Picture Puffin Book
      c. 1982 Jonathan Cape ltd.

      ISBN # 9780140504231

      Hardback version : ISBN-10: 0224029320

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        14.04.2011 12:22
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        Roald Dahl's poetic version of 6 well known fairy tales

        Just before the Easter holidays, my son's class were looking at Roald Dahl as a feature. Naturally, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the one they focused on most, but we already have a decent collection of Dahl books, one of which is Revolting Rhymes. Whereas most of his books are novels, and all with somewhat quirky imagination going on, this is a collection of fairy tales told in rhyme, and with the author's own little twist on proceedings. The results are hilarious, and my son loves me reading them to him as much as I do.

        Dahl takes six fairy tales in total, and changes them a little bit. He starts off with Cinderella, but instead of the 'fairy tale' ending, he adopts a bit more of a violent approach, making the Prince seem like a bit of an undesirable. The ending also takes a different turn to the traditional telling, and throughout, the rhyming makes it easy to read, flowing effortlessly.

        In fact, it would be true to say this of all six poems, with Dahl able to match the rhyming with the syllables and ebb and flow of emphasis without you having to try and create it yourself. Jack and the Beanstalk is more a lesson in hygiene with the giant and the sensitive smelling nose, while Snow White takes up the tale with seven jockeys as opposed to seven dwarves, talking about gambling as well as the actual story itself. It's as if he found it a bit boring and wanted to go off the beaten track. I'd say these two are my least favourite to read out loud, although this is probably because I know what's coming afterwards!

        What comes afterwards starts off with Goldilocks, and finally examines the concept of a thief, and just how annoyed those bears would actually be in real life. Could you imagine someone breaking in to your house and breaking, damaging or eating your kid's stuff? Dahl can, and he puts his thoughts to paper here with a hilarious take on the mischievous little golden haired girl - does she get her come uppance? We'll see......

        Dahl; then finishes off with two tales that he links together quite cleverly. The first is Little Red Riding Hood, but Dahl adds a bit of realism by making Red a lot less naive and gullible, giving her nouse and a bit of a violent streak, too. Violence is, by the way, something that runs through the collection. We finish off with a bit more wolf action as the Three Little Pigs get trapped and need to call on someone to help them? Now, who could we get that had just had a run in with a wolf only moments before?............Once more a clever link and funny twist on the tale.

        Dahl has always had a little controversy about him, and the subject matter and delivery of his tales has met with mixed feelings, especially with parents of younger kids who rely more on being read to than actually exploring the reading themselves. Our 7 year old has picked up reading like a shot, and loves his books (just like mum and dad!) and he loves Dahl's tales. Concentration wise, his books are quite long and despite the odd Quentin Blake illustration, it's mainly text and therefore not quite his cup of tea just yet. Revolting Rhymes, however, is perfect - fun rhyming poetry focusing on established tales and with a bit of mischief in the telling of them. There are some gruesome moments in the text, otherwise it wouldn't be relevant to the title. These are glossed over quite cleverly by the fact that this is obviously intended for comedic purposes. However, parents of younger kids may not deem this suitable for their little ears.

        Quentin Blake's illustrations come hand in hand with Dahl's storytelling, and here he gets a chance to have an equal share in page content. The large sweeping artwork really helps the stories be told, getting in the quirky differences to the traditional tales and using the gentle colours. The font/handwriting style is also associated with him, and is the same as you would find on the covers of Dahl's books.

        I highly recommend this collection of Dahl's rhyming takes on traditional fairy tales. It offers different and potentially more realistic outcomes to the tales, and although now nearly 30 years old, they still carry the same weight now as when I was a kid. Highly recommended.

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          02.08.2010 16:15
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          A total joy to read

          For the last 50 years or so, Roald Dahl has charmed children and adults alike with his stories of mischief, full of wit and humour. Although he's best known for his many children's stories, his books for adults were just as naughty, maybe even more and you might remember the television show (based on the collective works of the same name) called Tales of the Unexpected.

          Dahl's stories were never about the nice things in life, instead taking dark things and making them funny and a pleasure to read.

          Revolting Rhymes was released in the early 80s, as one of his later books, and was a collection of poems retelling famous fairy tales, but putting them into different context, bringing out the wicked side things. The first story, a take on the Cinderella tale, has one of the step sisters switch the shoes around at the ball, but the prince, when he sees who that shoe fits, decides not to marry her, instead he cuts off her head.

          There are versions of Jack and Bean Stalk, Snow White, Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and, my favourite of the lot, Goldilocks and the three Bears, which depicts Goldilocks as a bit of a criminal hoodlum who breaks into the bears' house, steals their food and breaks all their furniture. The bears then eat her.

          Revolting Rhymes is exactly what the title says it is. While not exactly Revolting, they are filled with all kinds of dark humour, the kind we don't see nearly enough of in children's books. I always liked Dahl most of all as a child because there was never anything too cutesy or innocent. It's a book where Red Riding Hood happily shoots the wolf in the head and then wears his skin as a fur coat. Sure it's dark but it's what the kids love, and is what made Dahl stand out so much in the first place.

          All in all, it's a great little book. Written all in rhyme it's fun and easy to read, great for the kids who are bored with the same stuff you normally get

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          09.02.2010 14:11
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          47 pages of sheer genius

          It goes without saying that poetry is boring. Yawn worthy. Tedious. Dull. Rambling. The mere thought of a poetry lesson is enough to induce groans in a class of school children. So when my youngest arrived home with this weeks library book and announced that her class topic was poetry imagine my enthusiasm. We get to read it together. Oh goody.

          Fortunately my youngest has exquisite taste and had bypassed the compendiums of children's poetry specially selected by the children's poet laureate in favour of the one with the best picture. And so we settled down to read Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes. All I had to do was read one poem out loud so that she could draw a picture to illustrate it. Shouldn't take long.

          It just goes to show how wrong you can be. Almost an hour later I was rereading the book out loud for the second time trying not to snort with laughter (apparently it's not very attractive in a lady). Both the demonic daughters were sniggering and the other half was muttering about the use of a very naughty vulgar word in a children's book from a church school. I guess that one escaped the censors.

          The premise of the book is incredibly simple. It merely retells six classic fairy tales in poetry form. Admittedly there's the odd tweak here and there which serve to show what genius came from the pen of the late Mr Dahl.

          For those of you who'd ever wondered what would have happened had the glass slipper belonged to Cinderella's ugly siblings or if Jacks mum had climbed the beanstalk or if Snow White and the seven dwarves were gamblers then this is most definitely the book for you.

          For anyone in need of a quick chuckle to banish the winter blues its well worth a read. Quentin Blakes simplistic colour illustrations are brilliantly done with just the right amount of gore for the occasion.

          Giving this as a gift will also ensure your status as the coolest aunt / uncle / grandparent in the world when you share it with someone else's children.

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            15.09.2009 21:31

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            Great for older children

            Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl is one of my favourite books to get my class interested in poetry! The book contains a series of well known fairy tales that have been twisted to make them revolting and therefore interesting for children! The fairytales that are used are Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and The Three Little Pigs. The poems are written in the typical Dahl style with all the wit and pace that you find in his novels.

            As I'm sure you can imagine teaching poetry to a group of kids who feel they are too 'cool' for it is a very hard job. This book gives them the chance to laugh and make a variety of noises and jokes to demonstrate their disgust! If you are a teacher trying to interest a class or a parent wanting to get your child interested in poetry then I would highly recommend this book.

            The poems go down really well but I wouldn't use them with any child younger than 7 or 8. Also beware some of the words can be considered naughty words! It is available as a book and as an audio CD. There is a read and respond book available to use alongside Revolting Rhymes. It is a short book at only 48 pages for the same price as any other Dahl book; however I think that the content means that it is deserving of this price.

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            25.01.2008 17:01
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            You'll never believe what you read in a fairy tale again!

            Roald Dahl has to be one of those authors that everyone knows. I certainly loved all of his books when I was younger, and they are all still going strong today even though sadly he is no longer around. One of my all time favourites was his book of 'Revolting Rhymes' and I am just beginning to enjoy it second time around as my daughter start to discover it.

            Revolting Rhymes is a series of longish poems which are based on six of the most well known fairy tales, such as 'Cinderella' and 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. However, these are poems with a difference as they give an entirely different slant on all of the stories we know and love so well! There are a lot of comments in the poems poking fun at the characters and saying how silly they were to carry out some of their actions, and there is also a lot more gorey details than in the original tales - although not too much because after all this is a children's book!

            One of my favourites in the book is 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' which points out that rather than being a delightful little blonde heroine, Goldilocks was actually a brazen little crook who should have been punished and put in jail! It makes out that the three bears were a very lovely family who's treatment by Goldilocks was quite appalling. I like the lines:

            'I say again, how would you feel
            If you had made this lovely meal
            And some delinquent little tot
            Broke in and gobbled up the lot?

            Such phrases as 'some delinquent little tot' are so well chosen and funny, and you find these derisive comments throughout the poem. He writes about her 'plonking her fat behind upon a dainty precious chair, and:

            'her filthy shoes were thick with grime,
            and mud and mush and slush and slime!

            So of course it's no wonder that the three bears were very angry indeed!

            All of the nursery rhymes are told in a similar fashion, and there is always a twist from what you remember from the traditional tales.

            My daughter loves listening to these rhymes and finds them incredibly funny - even though I don't think that she gets everything in them. However, there is enough to seal her enjoyment, even though I do feel that they are probably more suited to slightly older children, probably aged about eight to eleven. However, she loves all the funny words and descriptions particularly the ones which are slightly 'rude' such as Goldilocks' fat behind! That one always causes a certain amount of giggles. Also, the poems are all accompanied by wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake, who has chosen to give modern day depictions of these characters. One example of this is seeing Snow White in jeans and high heeled shoes surrounded by seven dwarfs who are all ex race horse jockeys.

            The poems are all cleverly crafted and are all formed of rhyming couplets. My daughter is now very good at recognising rhymes and very much enjoys trying to guess what some of the rhymes are going to be. This is very good for her listening skills too. All of the stories are great fun to read out like, and if you feel like it, there is the opportunity to put on lots of different funny voices!

            So overall this is a very enjoyable book which has definitely stood the test of time. It is enjoyable for both children and adults, and the paperback version is available from Amazon at the moment for £5.24!

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          • Product Details

            A collection of comic and rather gruesome versions of popular fairy tales from the creative genius of Roald Dahl.