This is a collection of poetry based around the theme of animals and monsters.
‘Dirty Beasts’ by Roald Dahl
‘Dirty Beasts’ is a collection of poems by Roald Dahl, based around the theme of animals and ‘beasts’ – ranging from a giant toad and snail, to a monster living in a boy’s tummy. In classic Dahl style, each poem has a decidedly dark twist with many of the beasts having a healthy appetite for tasty children! This does not mean to say, however, that this is a collection for older readers only – although they are most likely to be able to tackle the poems by themselves. The gorgeous range of language and the rhythms of the poetry make them brilliant for reading aloud to younger audiences, and give plenty of opportunities for enthusiastic expressions and voices, or even puppetry. They also introduce children to challenging vocabulary and a sophisticated writing style based around child-friendly subjects – bottoms and bodily functions are a fairly constant feature! Since the poems also range in length enormously there is a poem for every occasion, whether a quick story time at the end of the day or as a basis for a whole lesson. Children might enjoy writing their own equally horrible tales or inventing imaginative new words to describe their own characters. Poems are accompanied by Quentin Blake’s wonderful illustrations and could prompt an art session based around adding to these, since they are fairly sparingly spread out. I think the potential of this collection really is endless and it is hugely enjoyable for adults too, which is always a bonus. It also connects to Roald Dahl’s other famous collection of dark poetry, ‘Revolting Rhymes’, which follows a similar style to ‘Dirty Beasts’ but instead takes a twist on traditional fairytales. ‘Revolting Rhymes’ is also available on DVD and the Roald Dahl website is packed with accompanying activities and ideas for lessons. This makes Roald Dahl in general, and his poetry in particular, well worth considering for inclusion in teaching.
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