What is your favorite childhood book? I was posed with this question a few days ago and it really got me thinking…I grew up in England, so Roald Dahl stories were a regular read in my house and even in my school. When I was a teacher, I brought this love for his classic tales (think BFG, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!) to my classroom every year and my students loved them just as much as I did. However, my most favorite tale is one that is a little unknown, The Twits. As a child, I would read this short story over and over again and try to redraw the pictures (by famed illustrator, Quentin Blake) in my notebooks.
A little about Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. He spent his childhood in England and, at age eighteen, went to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa. When World War II broke out, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. At the age of twenty-six he moved to Washington, D.C., and it was there he began to write. His first short story, which recounted his adventures in the war, was bought by The Saturday Evening Post, and so began a long and illustrious career.
After establishing himself as a writer for adults, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 while living in England with his family. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated. Roald Dahl is now considered one of the most beloved storytellers of our time. Although he passed away in 1990, his popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.
Which brings me to answering the question about what is my favorite childhood book? The answer it… The Twits….Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the smelliest, nastiest, 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…I suggest that you read this awesome book, especially if you have kids- they will get a kick out of it!
So if you have ever read The Twits, you would know that Mr. and Mrs. Twit are not the lovey-dovey Valentine’s Celebrating type couple. They spend most of their time playing awful tricks on each other (but maybe out of a place of love?!). If you too think Valentine’s Day is for “twits”, here are a few twit-ish ways to make this day of romance decidedly unromantic…shared from www.roalddahl.com
A GIANT SKILLYWIGGLER
Mr Twit plays a horrible trick on Mrs Twit by planting a frog in her bed, which frightens Mrs Twit so much she runs from the room.
“By golly it is a Giant Skillywiggler! It’ll bite off your nose.”
A DREADED SHRINKS WALKING STICK
Mr Twit also makes his wife think she’s got the Dreaded Shrinks by adding small bits of wood to her walking stick every day, so she feels like she’s getting smaller and smaller.
“You’ve got the Dreaded Shrinks!”
Mrs Twit takes great delight in serving up a lovely meal for her husband one day – spaghetti filled with worms.
“It’s called Squiggly Spaghetti. It’s delicious. Eat it up while it’s nice and hot.”
AND TO DRINK…
Mrs Twit also has a little surprise for her husband when she serves him up his favourite mug of beer. At the bottom of it he finds her glass eye staring back up at him.
“I’ve got eyes everywhere so you’d better be careful.”