As I approach the last quarter of the BBC Big Reads, it dawned on me that much of what remains are books that I’ve deliberately avoided reading. Thankfully, in amongst the Russian greats and the sci-fi tomes was one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved books – The Twits. At just 101 pages, it was something of a relief to read after The Count of Monte Cristo and Tess of the D’Urbevilles – both of which – particularly the former – are rather sizeable novels.
Having grown up reading Roald Dahl, he was very much a part of my childhood and I still vividly remember reading The Magic Finger, Fantastic Mr Fox and Matilda as a young girl. That Dahl has three entries in the BBC Top 100 certainly confirms that he is one of the nation’s best-loved authors, for both children and adults alike.
Said to have been inspired by Dahl’s hatred for beards, The Twits tells the story of Mr and Mrs Twit, who live in a windowless house, home to their pet monkeys – the Muggle-Wumps – who, along with each other, they gleefully mistreat. Despite being married, Mr and Mrs Twit share a mutual dislike for each other and spend their days coming up with new ways of winding the other up – from Mrs Twit filling a supper plate with worms to Mr Twit convincing his wife she needed stretching out by helium balloons in the hope of ridding himself of her forever.
Fed up of the abuse they suffer at the hands of their owners, the Muggle-Wumps join forces with the Roly Poly Bird to exact revenge on the unsuspecting Twits who meet their fate at the end of the tale.
Much like the rest of Dahl’s books, The Twits is a charming, moral tale that will remain a classic for years to come. I’ll end this review with my favourite quote from the book:
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
About The Twits
How do you outwit a Twit? Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the smelliest, ugliest people in the world. They hate everything — except playing mean jokes on each other, catching innocent birds to put in their Bird Pies, and making their caged monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps, stand on their heads all day. But the Muggle-Wumps have had enough. They don’t just want out, they want revenge.
About Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter of Norwegian descent, who rose to prominence in the 1940’s with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world’s bestselling authors.
Dahl’s first published work, inspired by a meeting with C. S. Forester, was Shot Down Over Libya. Today the story is published as A Piece of Cake. The story, about his wartime adventures, was bought by the Saturday Evening Post for $900, and propelled him into a career as a writer. Its title was inspired by a highly inaccurate and sensationalized article about the crash that blinded him, which claimed he had been shot down instead of simply having to land because of low fuel.
His first children’s book was The Gremlins, about mischievous little creatures that were part of RAF folklore. The book was commissioned by Walt Disney for a film that was never made, and published in 1943. Dahl went on to create some of the best-loved children’s stories of the 20th century, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach.
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