Books

Fairytales Untold and Retold: Revolting Rhymes

Once upon a time there was a girl called Cinderella and she had two ugly step -sisters. The prince of the land hosted a ball, to which all the ladies of the land he did call. Cinderella went there too, thanks to Fairy Godmother’s fairy dust. Then Cinderella there did dance till twelve and started to run out at midnight.

The midnight struck. She shouted ‘Heck!
I’ve got to run to save my neck!’
The prince cried, ‘No! Alas! Alack!’
He grabbed her dress to hold her back.
As Cindy shouted, ‘Let me go!’
The dress was ripped from head to toe.
She ran out in her underwear,
And lost one slipper on the stair.

Whaaat?! That can’t be right. On the bed where I read the poem to pranksters two, there followed guffawing, laughter and a hoot or two!

The prince picks up the fallen shoe and promises he will marry the girl who it fits. One of the ugly sisters switches the shoe and put her own in its place. The prince when he finds the shoe fits the ugly sister and in no mood to marry her tells his men to cut her head off. The second ugly step- sister meets the same fate at the prince’s hand.

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Cinderella is next, when the fairy godmother in the nick of time grants her another wish. This time Cinderella asks for a decent man who doesn’t chop heads for fun. Her wish is answered and she finds herself married to a sweet maker of jam in the happily ever after.

No more Princes, no more money.
‘I have had my taste of honey.
‘I’m wishing for a decent man.
‘They’re hard to find. D’you think you can?’

Moving on to Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs:

When little Snow-White’s mother died,
The King, her father, up and cried,
‘Oh, what a nuisance! What a life!
‘Now I must find another wife!’
(It’s never easy for a king
To find himself that sort of thing.)

I expected to hear angry protests from the children, but no, they were quite excited to go on. The story goes on about the Magic Mirror.

A MAGIC TALKING LOOKING-GLASS.
Ask it something day or night,
It always got the answer right.
For instance, if you were to say,
‘Oh Mirror, what’s for lunch today?’
The thing would answer in a trice,
‘Today it’s scrambled eggs and rice’.

Aah, for a mirror like that.

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl and illustrations by Quentin Blake are a laugh a minute poems that will delight  young readers. They can also be called practical tales with the fairies intact. Full of believable characters like the gambling dwarfs or the psychotic prince Revolting Rhymes will make you laugh till your sides ache.

It is so full of practical wisdom that children can learn from. The gullible third pig in the face of wolf’s attempt to blow up the house with dynamite when blowing in fails calls Red Riding Hood. She goes on to shoot wolf and add to her collection of wolf skin, but she doesn’t spare poor piggy either making him a travelling case.

Ah, Piglet, you must never trust
Young ladies from the upper crust.
For now, Miss Riding Hood, one notes,
Not only has two wolfskin coats,
But when she goes from place to place,
She has a PIGSKIN TRAVELLING CASE.

Don’t be surprised if you find your young readers enjoying this more than the original fairy tale.Full of the delightful images that only Mr.Dahl does so brilliantly and accompanied by Mr.Blake’s wonderful sketches – for example of the wolf licking the curly pig’s tail after eating it –Revolting Rhymes are a must for fairy tail disbelievers and sceptics.

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