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Nursery rhymes for older children,
Revolting Rhymes - Roald Dahl
Member Name: broxi3781
Revolting Rhymes - Roald Dahl
Advantages: Very funny in a crude and naughty way.
Disadvantages: May upset some children.
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".
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
Summary: Fairy tales for those with a wicked sense of humour.