The team behind The Gruffalo and Stick Man are bringing Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes to the BBC this Christmas! Presented in two parts, the stop-motion animation will feature the voices of Dominic West (Finding Dory) and David Walliams, the author of The Boy in the Dress. In preparation, we look at some of our favourite poems from this revolting collection.
Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
This story begins with a lonely old lady, a vicious wolf and a kind but curious granddaughter. So far, so familiar…poor “Wolfie” doesn’t realise that Red isn’t playing by the rules until she remarks on his “lovely great big furry coat” instead of his bright, sharp teeth:
“The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead”
Lots of authors have been inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. In The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy the Wolf buys Red her first drink; The Company of Wolves by Angela Carter has a supernatural edge. But Dahl’s poem is definitely the most accessible feminist take on the fairy tale. Watch where you store that pistol!
There are many versions of the story of a little girl who strayed from the woodland path- do you have a favourite? Tell us!
The Three Little Pigs
“The animal I really dig
Above all others is the pig.
Pigs are noble. Pigs are clever,
Pigs are courteous. However,
Now and then, to break this rule,
One meets a pig who is a fool”
Little Red Riding Hood is back, and ready to defend the forest from any other wolves who want to try their luck! Pig Three is a competent builder (unlike Pig One and Pig Two) but even his brick house can’t withstand Wolf’s secret weapon: dynamite! He calls the famous gunslinger, who arrives in time to dispatch the wolf- but he isn’t the only threat to Piggy’s safety…
A mouthwatering treat for a passing wolf…
This poem caused some controversy back in 2014 when an Aldi shopper complained about Dahl’s bad language. Cinderella’s Prince, an altogether charmless character, calls Cinderella a “dirty slut”. The word “slut” was originally a synonym for “slattern”, a lazy and unkempt person; since the word is now used to describe a promiscuous person, Aldi was persuaded to remove the book from its stores. At least the Prince is punished for his wicked ways- Cinderella asks her Fairy Godmother to find her a better husband and ends up happily married to a jam-maker. Sweet revenge!
“Within a minute, Cinderella
Was married to a lovely feller,
A simple jam maker by trade,
Who sold good home-made marmalade.
Their house was filled with smiles and laughter
And they were happy ever after”
Do you think Dahl’s poems are controversial? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter.
September 13th 2016 would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday. You can see Dahl Day celebrations from around the world on Instagram– we like the look of those dead mouse biscuits (Dahl would surely approve!) Find out where we keep Dahl’s books, and the films based on his most iconic works, by clicking here.
David Walliams is often compared to Roald Dahl- we think Mr Stink and Mr Twit might get along! Many of his books are illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake, the man who lent his slightly sweet, often revolting touch to all Dahl’s children’s stories. You can find The Queen’s Orang-utan, The Boy in the Dress and The Slightly Annoying Elephant in our QUICK READS section.
Sir Quentin Blake’s illustrations are instantly recognisable- note Mr Twit’s beard and Mrs Twit’s glass eye!
There are plenty of short, funny poems to be found amongst the QUICK READS- look out for books with a ‘P’ sticker on the spine, or ask a member of staff to help you. Read Eleanor’s review of Wish You Were Here (And I Wasn’t) or check out these posts on World Poetry Day and National Poetry Day.
anneheathen (2012) awesome Little Red Riding Hood goodies from Lauren Available at: https://flic.kr/p/bnqDh7 (Accessed: 15 November 2016)
BIMS Sabadell (2016) 2016. Biblioteca #vaporbadia. Laboratori de lectura: Fantàstic Sr. Dahl! Available at: https://flic.kr/p/LejbzY (Accessed: 15 November 2016)
Jabsco, W (2008) Cinderella Available at: https://flic.kr/p/5arbPc (Accessed: 15 November 2016)
Parks, J (2013) Three Little Pigs of Apple Hill Available at: https://flic.kr/p/k88U9r (Accessed: 15 November 2016)