This is one of the BBC’s The Big Read books that we happened to have lying around the house. I must have seen it in at a thrift store or something and picked it up because Dahl always makes for a good read aloud. I thought it would be a good start to our year as a read aloud.
Genre: middle grade fiction (there are talking animals, but they only talk to each other and it doesn’t really feel like fantasy)
Length: 76 pages with lots of illustrations
Setting: England, it felt like the 1940s, but certainly not even the 1980s.
Summary: Mr. and Mrs. Twit are two very unpleasant people who spend a lot of time playing mean pranks on each other (glass eye in the beer glass, frog in the bed, worms in the spaghetti, you get the idea). They’re also pretty unpleasant to the creatures around them. Mr. Twit is training a family of monkeys to do an upside-down monkey circus, in between catching birds in the big dead tree for Wednesday’s bird pie dinner. One day, the roly-poly bird flies in from Africa, and can speak to the monkeys. They warn away all the birds, and trick the Twits into thinking they’re upside down in their own house.
Final thoughts: This makes a great read aloud. The chapters are short and the imagery is vivid. In fact, we almost had to stop reading the story because the description of Mr. Twit’s unwashed beard was too disgusting! Luckily, there wasn’t anything else quite so revolting in the story. It doesn’t take long to thoroughly dislike the Twits, which means you quickly root for the monkeys and the birds when they try to trick the Twits. Overall, a quick, delightful (if at times gross) read.
Title comes from: The main characters were named the Twits, possibly because they keep trying to outwit the other
Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was so short
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!