Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Twits

The Twits

Roald Dahl
Illustrator:   Quentin Blake 
For ages 8 to 12
Penguin, 1998   ISBN: 978-0141301075

Imagine the hairiest, nastiest, smelliest man that you can. You may just have imagined what a certain Mr. Twit is like. If you imagine this dreadful person without all the hair then you have imagined what Mrs. Twit is like. These two horrible people spend all their time either being beastly to one another, or finding ways to be beastly to others. They are horrifically cruel people who eat bird pie every week using birds that Mr. Twit catches. They also have a family of monkeys which they keep in a cage and which Mr. Twit likes to train in his leisure moments. Mr. Twit forces the monkeys to stand on their heads for hours, even days, on end. If they don’t comply with his demands he starves them and lets Mrs. Twit beat them with her cane.

For ages and ages the Twits have been able to go on victimizing each other, the birds, and the monkeys. Then, one fateful day, a bird arrives from Africa who happens to speak the same language as the monkeys. Together the monkeys (the Mugglewump family), the local birds, and the African bird set about making the Twits life as difficult as possible.

This is a hilarious, and often decidedly disgusting story about how two truly dreadful people get their just desserts. Young children will be delighted to read about how the Twits underestimate their enemies who have their revenge on the dreadful pair by being clever, organized and resourceful. Harrah for the animals who teach their persecutors a well earned lesson.

With his customary storytelling skill, Roald Dahl paints a truly horrible portrait of the Twits. Then, carefully and with obvious enjoyment, he sets about bringing them down.