Book Review of The Twits by Roald Dahl

The Twits is another book by Roald Dahl, same offbeat humor and definitely not as much of a classic as some of his other works. Because Liam is such a fan of Dahl’s works, I have reviewed several of his books already: Liam’s favorite, The BFG, my favorite, Danny Champion of the World, and The Magic Finger.

This one was not as enjoyable to me as some of Dahl’s other books, but Liam still enjoyed it. I felt like more time was spent on the nastiness of the Twits than there needed to be, and when the Twits do receive their just rewards, it still felt nasty and not inspiring. The moral was fine, but it wasn’t one of my favorites.

Thorough Book Review of Roald Dahl's The Twits ~ What My Kids Read

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The Twits is about a terrible husband and wife who are very mean to each other and to others. They finally get what is due to them, and meet a rather gruesome end.

Thorough Book Review of The Twits by Roald Dahl ~ What My Kids Read

Parents should be aware that Mr. and Mrs. Twit are nasty, rotten people. They think up mean things to do to each other, and they are cruel to birds, monkeys, and little boys in the story. At one point, Mr. Twit threatens to have “Boy Pie” instead of his regular “Bird Pie.” Mr. and Mrs. Twit get their comeuppance, but they die by being stuck standing on their heads, and slowing shrinking down, and eventually vanishing.

The message of this book is to treat others as you want to be treated.

My Mom-Meter gives The Twits an overall safety rating of 1 (Safe) for ages 8 and up.

Click here to skip to Liam’s review of this book

Click here to skip to a Plot summary

Click here to skip straight to Potential Discussion Points

Category ratings (click on the category to see specifics):

Alcohol/DrugsSafe - no actual four-letter words

BullyingModerately Safe

Disrespectful AttitudesSafe - no actual four-letter words

GamblingSafe - no actual four-letter words

Gross BehaviorSafe - no actual four-letter words

LanguageSafe - no actual four-letter words

Magic/SupernaturalSafe - no actual four-letter words

MoralityModerately Safe

Romance/SexSafe - no actual four-letter words

Scary ThemesSafe - no actual four-letter words

ViolenceModerately Safe

 

Plot summary of The Twits: ***Contains Spoilers***

I found a good plot summary of The Twits at Wikipedia.

Potential Discussion Points for Parents in The Twits:

  • “If a person has ugly thought, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets to ugly you can hardly bear to look at it. 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 it you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Do you think that is true? Do our thoughts make an impression on our faces? Does that mean that pretty people always have had good thoughts? But do you think that bad thoughts may affect our bodies?
  • Four boys get stuck in the Twit’s tree. Mr. Twit says he will put them in a pie. “Boy pie might be better than bird pie… More meat and not so many tiny little bones.” You might want to talk to your kids about cannibalism.
  • When the monkeys (who have been treated so badly) escape, they play one trick on the Twits, gluing all the furniture to the ceiling so that the Twits think that they are upside down. The bird help the monkey by putting glue on the Twits’ heads, so when the Twits decide to stand on their heads, they are glued to the ground. “But heads are not made to be stood upon. If you stand on your head for a very long time, a horrid thing happens, and this was where Mr. Twit got his biggest shock of all. With so much weight on it from up above, his head began to get squished into his body. Quite soon, it had disappeared completely, sunk out of sight in the fatty folds of his flabby neck… Mrs. Twit was getting the Dreaded Shrinks too… Their heads shrank into their necks…Then their necks began shrinking into their bodies… And their bodies began shrinking into their legs… And their legs began shrinking into their feet.” One week later, all that is left is their clothes and everyone rejoices. Were the monkeys right to do that to the Twits? Should we repay evil with evil? Should we rejoice when the wicked die?

Thorough Book Review of The Twits by Roald Dahl ~ What My Kids Read

Alcohol/Drugs:

  • Mr. Twit drinks a mug of beer several times.
  • The Twits plan to train the monkeys to do everything upside down, and to act like humans – including “smoke pipes.”

Bullying:

  • Throughout the book, the Twits bully each other and those around them. It is supposed to be funny, since they get their just reward in the end.

Disrespectful Attitudes: See Bullying and Language.

Gambling: None

Gross Behavior:

  • Mr. Twit never cleans his beard. There is a very gross description of all of the food he leaves in his beard and eats later.
  • Mrs. Twit serves worms as spaghetti to Mr. Twit, to get even with him.

Language:

  • Mr. Twit says “Oh, do shut up, you old hag!”
  • Mr. Twist tells Mrs. Twit, “don’t be a fool!”
  • There is a lot of Roald Dahl-type language. For example, Mrs. Twist calls Mr. Twit “a grizzly old grunion,” “a rotten old turnip,” and a “filthy old frumpet.”
  • Muggle-Wump, the father of the monkey family, tells everyone to “shut up.”
  • Muggle Wump is called “dotty,” “balmy,” “batty,” “nutty,” screwy,” and “wacky.”
  • Muggle Wump calls his friends and family “nitwits.”
  • “Beastly” is used several times.
  • The monkeys call the Twits “filthy freaks” once and “frumptious freaks” twice.
  • Mrs. Twit calls the monkeys “stupid.”
  • Mr. Twit calls Mrs. Twit an “ugly old cow.”

Magic/Supernatural:

  • The word “ghastly” is used a few times.
  • No magic, but the monkeys can talk to an African bird.
  • The monkeys call the Twits “maggoty old monsters.”
  • Muggle Wump is described as “like a demon hopping around the room.”

Morality:

  • When the monkeys (who have been treated so badly) escape, they play one trick on the Twits, gluing all the furniture to the ceiling so that the Twits think that they are upside down. The bird help the monkey by putting glue on the Twits’ heads, so when the Twits decide to stand on their heads, they are glued to the ground. “But heads are not made to be stood upon. If you stand on your head for a very long time, a horrid thing happens, and this was where Mr. Twit got his biggest shock of all. With so much weight on it from up above, his head began to get squished into his body. Quite soon, it had disappeared completely, sunk out of sight in the fatty folds of his flabby neck… Mrs. Twit was getting the Dreaded Shrinks too… Their heads shrank into their necks…Then their necks began shrinking into their bodies… And their bodies began shrinking into their legs… And their legs began shrinking into their feet.” One week later, all that is left is their clothes and everyone rejoices.

Potentially Offensive Behavior:

  • “As she floated gently down, Mrs. Twit’s petticoat billowed out like a parachute, showing her long knickers.”

Romance/Sex:

  • Four boys get stuck in a tree. Their pants are glued to the tree, and Mr. Twit is threatening to put them in a pie. The boys, thinking quickly, unbutton their pants and “ran for home with their naked bottoms winking at the sun.”

Scary Themes: See Violence

Violence:

  • Mr. Twit pointed “his finger at her like a pistol.”
  • Four boys get stuck in the Twit’s tree. Mr. Twit says he will put them in a pie. “Boy pie might be better than bird pie… More meat and not so many tiny little bones.”
  • Mr. and Mrs. Twit decide to go buy guns to shoot down the birds. “We’ll buy those big shotguns that spray out fifty bullets or more with each bang.”
  • When the monkeys (who have been treated so badly) escape, they play one trick on the Twits, gluing all the furniture to the ceiling so that the Twits think that they are upside down. The bird help the monkey by putting glue on the Twits’ heads, so when the Twits decide to stand on their heads, they are glued to the ground. “But heads are not made to be stood upon. If you stand on your head for a very long time, a horrid thing happens, and this was where Mr. Twit got his biggest shock of all. With so much weight on it from up above, his head began to get squished into his body. Quite soon, it had disappeared completely, sunk out of sight in the fatty folds of his flabby neck… Mrs. Twit was getting the Dreaded Shrinks too… Their heads shrank into their necks…Then their necks began shrinking into their bodies… And their bodies began shrinking into their legs… And their legs began shrinking into their feet.” One week later, all that is left is their clothes and everyone rejoices.

From a ten-year-old’s perspective: I thought The Twits was a very funny book. The pranks were hilarious because the characters are really mean and exaggerated so you don’t feel sorry for them.

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The Twits

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Comments

  1. Bravo to Liam – his review was short but right to the point. “The pranks were hilarious because the characters are really mean and exaggerated so you don’t feel sorry for them.” He completely gets what this book is about. It’s entertaining and funny. What I like about Roald Dahl is that he writes cautionary tales for children with a child’s sense of justice. It’s all black and white – everyone’s deeds, actions, and motives are rewarded in exact proportion to the relative good or evil that they bring to others.

    That said, Dahl is not one of my favorite writers; and this is far from my favorite of his works. In fact, I remember the first time I read it that I totally hated it. (Disclaimer – I never experienced any of Dahl’s writing with a child’s eyes, but only as an adult.) But I’m willing to concede at this point that I have grown to find it delightful.

    I will take issue with your scorecard on the sexuality point – seriously, a child’s naked bottom doesn’t automatically translate into a sexual reference, and this book is a perfect example of that.

    (Wow, it took me three paragraphs to say what Laim did with 19 words.)

So what do you think?

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