Vintage Finds: Roald Dahl's Dirty Beasts

Burgin Streetman
August 12, 2009

My heart is being filled and my wallet emptied anew now that I've started wandering into the young adult section of my local bookstores. Even though my son is only four, we've been delving into longer chapter books of old that have some pictures and loads of silliness. This summer, Roald Dahl has been the must-read at bedtime almost every night.

First, we read the fabulous Esio Trot, then came The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, then The Fantastic Mr Fox... The Magic Finger, The Enormous Crocodile, and last night, our first reading of the shorter but highly-poetic Dirty Beasts (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1983). All of these are right up my son's alley. Totally his sense of humor, and it doesn't hurt that they're fun for grownups to read, as well. My husband always wants to take over the reading of any Dahl book halfway through, and I won't let him because I'm dying to find out what happens myself. I must admit the only Dahl I read as a child was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so discovering his books is, for me, a giant revelation.

Nothing is more sinfully delicious that reading your child a selection of funny poems about beasts doing horrible things. The pig that eats the farmer instead of the other way around. The anteater that eats Aunt Dorothy. The flying cow that poops on a horrid man's head. The little devil who lives in a boy's tummy and demands food. And who doesn't love a killer croc...

No animal is half so vile

As Crocky-Wock the crocodile.

On Saturdays, he likes to crunch

Six juicy children for his lunch.

Ahhhh... Dahl's books with Quentin Blake's illustrations.... never have an author and illustrator belonged together more. 80 thumbs up.

From the Parents

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