Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl Review

illustrated by Quentin Blake

Revolting Rhymes

A lot of learn to read by being read nursery rhymes and fairy tales. There are some great ones about that we remember throughout our lives. And then there are ones that get re-worked by a master storyteller Roald Dahl and once he has done his magic no nursery rhyme is quite as it seems.

Roald Dahl is well-known for his fabulous children’s stories, but he also wrote poetry. One such book of poems is Revolting Rhymes, and this is definitely a poetry book that children will adore. When some people, children and adults alike, think of poems their immediate reaction will be dry, stuffy and boring – something to avoid. But Revolting Rhymes is anything but a dry, stuffy or boring book of poetry – Dahl has taken classic fairy tales and turned them upside down and created some really fun and twisted and rhymes. Needless to say, we love the book in our house.

Revolting Rhymes features six classic fairy tales that have been reworked by the fabulous Roald Dahl and illustrated by the equally fabulous Sir Quentin Blake:

  • Cinderella
  • 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 collection of short rhymes that are not for the easily offended but are a delightful humorous assault on your mood – and laughter is excellent for good mental health. The featured rhymes are lots of fun, filled with Dahl’s dark humour. They are not sugar-coated or sanitised and there is an odd bit of colourful language (slut in Cinderella for example) 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.

Take Goldilocks for example. Everybody knows the tale of the sweet little girl looking for something to eat and somewhere to nap. In Dahl’s reality, Goldilocks is actually house breaking thief and vandal. She enters the house of the three bears without permission, sits down and eats their food and breaks their furniture!

As for Little Red Riding Hood, well any hungry wolves better watch out as she carries a pistol in her knickers!

As you would expect from a book written by Dahl, the rhyming text is written beautifully, and the use of language is excellent; dark, twisted and humorous. The ebb and flow of the rhymes is brilliant, filled with dark humour that will really make you laugh. The rhymes may scare younger children with Prince Charming beheading the Ugly Sisters and Little Red with her deadly shot, so you might want to have a read through first to make sure it is suitable for your child.

Fairy tales generally have a happy ending and so do Dahl’s revolting rhymes, in a weird sort of way.

Dahl’s surreal and dark humour really shines through the rhymes and gives a great slant on fairy tales that we all grew up with. Whilst this collection of rhymes might scare younger children, it will definitely delight older kids and, yes even us adult readers. One of Dahl’s shortest books with only 62 pages, but for me, one of his funniest.

If you are a fan of Roald Dahl and appreciate his dark humour, you will love Revolting Rhymes. If you decide to give this to your children to read, I recommend you read it first to make sure that you approve of some of the language and themes used.

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £7.99 (Hardback) / £5.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)

For more information, visit www.roalddahl.com. Available to buy from Amazon here.

DISCLOSURE: All thoughts and opinions are our own. This review uses an affiliate link which we may receive a small commission from if you purchase through the link.
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