Friday, August 16, 2013

{Review} Roald Dahl doubleheader! Revolting Rhymes & George's Marvelous Medicine

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Published by Bantam Skylark (first published 1982)
Softcover, 54 pages
ISBN 0553153617
Genres: children's fiction, classics, fairy tales, fantasy, humor, magic, poetry, YA

3/5 stars: The little guy and I read this together in just a couple of sittings, the poetry being a nice change of pace from the prose we've been reading. Gabriel loved all of the big, full-color pictures, once again by the irresistible Quentin Blake. I had to do a little editing of... unpleasant words. Not as much as in The Twits, though there were a couple instances of the word "hag" and once of "slut". I certainly wasn't expecting the latter and am mildly irritated to have encountered it in a children's book, even one by Roald Dahl. All in all, though, nothing to get too worked up about. The stories themselves are amusing versions of the classic fairy tales Cinderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood. They have highly original twists (just wait til you meet Little Red) and were a fun and extra-bloodthirsty departure from the traditional stories. While the poems are entertaining and Gabriel and I enjoyed them, we both still prefer Dahl's entirely original books. There is a flair about the latter that any traditional tale is not going to be able to touch no matter how flamboyant the version. Revolting Rhymes is only fifty-some pages, so if you're a hardcore fan of Dahl or any of these tales, take an hour and read it! If you're not, skip it and go read The Witches instead.

Published by Puffin
Softcover, 96 pages
ISBN 0140346414
Genres: children's fiction, classics, fantasy, humor, magic, YA

4/5 stars: George Kranky is a young boy who lives on a nice but boring farm with his nice but boring parents. It seems nothing exciting ever happens and to make matters worse, his grandmother, who lives with them, is insufferable. Whenever George's parents are gone it's up to him to take care of her, and on this particular lonely Saturday morning, he has had enough. After being bossed around, instructed on how to grow down instead of up (as those who grow up become increasingly stupid) and on the merits of eating lots of slimy insects ("Caterpillars give you brains"), George begins to formulate a plan to get back at his grandmother. He will mix up the weirdest, most magical medicine he can muster and give it to her in place of her real medicine. The results are quite unexpected, though definitely magical, and have the added bonus of the Krankys quite possibly being rid of the old grouch forever (at least George hopes so after his parents swiftly help him resolve any ethical issues he has). This was so much fun to read and with all of the medicine mixing and stirring, there were lots of opportunities for miming the actions and keeping a small kid highly entertained. Gabriel is still talking about this story and really likes George, who is indeed a very sweet and imaginative character. As always, this book is complemented with the talents of Quentin Blake, though there are even more illustrations than usual. This made Gabriel extra happy because George is featured on almost every page. George's Marvelous Medicine is perfect for reading out loud because while the narration is already wonderful throughout, there are extra bits of humor tossed in specifically for the adult reader that make it hilarious. I'm sure Gabriel would agree that if you enjoy Roald Dahl, this is not a book to miss.

Mary Beth


  1. Oh, the 'slut' in Revolting Rhymes! I was reading this book once to my class of seven year olds and had to quickly change the word to something non-offensive, only for one of them to pipe up "why didn't that line rhyme?"
    Brilliant book apart from that, though.

    1. Aahh! Yes! My brain completely shorted and my son could NOT understand why Mommy had started spluttering all over the place. Kids don't miss a thing, do they? :D


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