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 author takes six well known fairy tales- 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 - and twists them as only he can.
Dahl wrote the Revolting Rhymes in the tradition of Hilaire Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children, a collection of rhyming verse about ill-mannered children who meet rather gory ends or terrible consequences for their actions.
I always have been a lover of Hilaire Belloc’s cautionary tales. I knew every one of those Belloc tales by heart by the time I was 8,9,10… I wanted to do something a bit funny like that [and] I remembered those tales.
Like all good children's writers Dahl understood that childhood is not just an innocent phase. Children experience rage, anxiety and fear very often. Books and poems that help children live these feeling out even if it is through fantasy can be cathartic.
Fairy Tales are loved not because they have happy endings or because the prince finds his princess. It is for the darkness, the scary twists in the tale that we are drawn to to them. A young girl ventures into the woods alone. Here she is accosted by a wolf. Imagine the scenario, it is one that continues to fill us with dread long after we have ceased to be children. Yet, the tale pulls us in and we relive our childhoods again.
Dahl has also played with the poems to show alternative endings.
In his poem on Cinderella the poem follows the familiar path. 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.
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.
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?'
Cinderella realises much to our relief that power and pelf alone may not necessarily make a good husband .
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 kingTo find himself that sort of thing.)
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.
In his retelling of The Three Little Pigs, the wolf plans to blow up the third wise pig's house with dynamite. He fails and pig calls in 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 and makes herself travelling case of pig skin!
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. Quentin Blake's illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to Dahl's verse.Revolting Rhymes is a collection of poems for child and parent to be surprised over unexpected outcomes to well-known fairy tales, in unified terror and joy.
Get Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes by clicking on the link below.