Revolting Rhymes

Revolting Rhymes

First edition
Author Roald Dahl
Illustrator Quentin Blake
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Fairy tales
Genre Children's poetry, satire
Publisher Jonathan Cape
Publication date
Media type Paperback
ISBN 978-0-8479-8713-9

Revolting Rhymes is a collection of Roald Dahl poems published in 1982. A parody of traditional folk tales in verse, Dahl gives a re-interpretation of six well-known fairy tales, featuring surprise endings in place of the traditional happily-ever-after. The poems are illustrated by Quentin Blake. It is the shortest children's book he has written and is easily the most comical.


There are a total of six poems in the book.

In Cinderella, the plot stayed true to the original tale until one of the ugly stepsisters switches her shoe with the one Cinderella left behind at the ball. However, when the prince sees that the shoe fits one of the step sisters, he decides not to marry her, and instead personally cuts off her head on the spot while she is standing. When the prince removes the head of the second stepsister and makes to do the same to Cinderella, she wishes to be married instead to a decent man. Her fairy godmother grants this wish and marries her to a simple jam-maker.

In Jack and the Beanstalk, the beanstalk grows golden leaves towards the top. Jack's mother sends him up to fetch them, but when Jack hears the giant threaten to eat him after the giant smells him, he descends without collecting any of the gold. Jack's mother then ascends herself after accusing Jack of being smelly, but is eaten. Undeterred, Jack decides to bathe, and then climbs up and collects the leaves himself, as the giant is now unable to smell him since he is clean. Now rich, Jack resolves to bathe every day.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs begins familiarly, but after the huntsman agrees not to kill Snow White, she takes a job as a cook and maid for seven jockeys in the city. Although those jockeys are compulsive gamblers on horse racing, they are not particularly successful. So Snow White resolves to help them, and sneaks back to steal the magic mirror, which can correctly predict the winning horse and makes the seven jockeys (and Snow White) millionaires, with the moral that "Gambling is not a sin / Provided that you always win".[1]

Goldilocks And The Three Bears has a slightly different set-up to the rest of the books, in that the story is kept the same as the traditional tale, but with continual comments from the narrator about how appalling Goldilocks is and how anyone with any sense would take the bears' side over hers (telling the story as if talking to the Mother Bear). After the end, the narrator says that they would prefer an ending where the three bears come back and eat Goldilocks.

In Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, the wolf enters the grandmother's house and devours her before putting on her clothes in order to eat Little Red Riding Hood next. Riding Hood is not disturbed however, and calmly pulls a pistol out of her knickers (underwear) and shoots the wolf ("The small girl smiles/Her 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.") — yielding her a new wolfskin coat.[2]

In The Three Little Pigs, the wolf quickly blows down the houses of straw and sticks, devouring the first two pigs. The third house of bricks is too strong, so the wolf resolves to come back that evening with dynamite. The third pig has other plans, however, and asks Little Red Riding Hood to come and deal with the wolf. Ever the sharpshooter, Red Riding Hood gains a second wolfskin coat and a pigskin traveling case.[3]

Audio Book

An audio book of Dahl's Revolting Rhymes was released, read by Timothy West and Prunella Scales; this version was also turned into an OVA by Abbey Home Entertainment in the 1990s as part of their Tempo Video range. A later version was narrated by Scottish actor Alan Cumming.[4]


In 2014, supermarket chain Aldi pulled Revolting Rhymes from its shelves due complaints over the prince from Cinderella using the word "slut". [5]


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