The Twits, by Roald Dahl

The Twits.  By Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.  Puffin, 1982. 87 pages. $6.99

Plot: The Twits are awful people.  My Twit has a disgusting spiky beard that he never washes; it is full of bits of food and other debris.  Mrs. Twit is ugly, but she wasn’t always that way.  Her face got uglier and uglier until eventually the ugliness of her face matched the ugliness of her thoughts.  The Twits do not seem to like anyone, even each other.  They spend most of their time thinking up or carrying out cruel tricks on each other.  Mrs. Twit feeds Mr. Twit worms in place of spaghetti.  Mr. Twit adds small bits of wood to Mrs. Twit’s walking stick every day to convince her she has a terrible case of the shrinks.  The tricks go back and forth and back and forth, until the day the birds and monkeys get involved.  Will the mugglewump monkeys have to spend the rest of their lives upside down, like Mr. Twit would like them to?  Will the birds continue to be made in the Twits Wednesday night bird pie?  Will the Twits ever get what they deserve?

Review: Roald Dahl never fails to make his stories unique and weirdly twisted.  With The Twits, he did not disappoint.  His gentle, melodic, and matter-of-fact writing belies the darkness of the Twits’ story, but this works to keep readers engaged and not too uncomfortable.  Readers will be justifiably and satisfyingly outraged at the preposterous, mean, and warped behavior of two of Dahl’s worst characters.  When the monkeys finally decide enough is enough, readers will root for them and hope they succeed in exacting revenge on these despicable people.

Genre(s): Humor

Reading/Interest Level: 8-12 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

ISBN: 978-0439269704

Subjects: tricks, misanthropy

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Good Luck Charlie: Appy Days

Good Luck Charlie: Appy Days (March 13, 2011), TV Program. Producer: It’s a Laugh Productions and Disney Channel Original Productions for the Disney Channel.  Actors: Bridget Mendler, Jason Dolley, Bradley Steven Perry, Mia Talerico, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Eric Allan Kramer, Raven Goodwin.  Series dates: 2010 – present.

Plot Summary:  Good Luck Charlie is the story of the Duncan family.  The Duncan’s are parents Amy and Bob, teenagers P.J. and Teddy, 10-year-old Gabe, and new addition, baby Charlie.  The program is a comedy about life for each family member and how it is affected by Charlie’s presence.  This particular episode centered around Teddy and her best friend, Ivy, and their use of a cell phone App that allowed them to fake phone calls in order to trick their mothers into allowing them to attend a senior’s party.  Also in this episode, oldest child, P.J. finds out that his father praises all his children to his co-worker and that his father considers him, “nice,” which P.J. takes as an insult, as compared to his father’s descriptions of the other 3 kids.  Will Teddy and Ivy make it to the party?  Will the duped moms find out the truth?

Review: Good Luck Charlie is a cute family comedy, with likable characters and realistic, if somewhat superficial, storylines.  Part of Teddy’s role is as videographer and narrator of videos made of and for Charlie in which Teddy speaks to the Charlie of the future.  This provides a vehicle for some commentary and reflection at times, as well as adds a fun perspective.

Genre(s): Comedy, Family

Viewing/Interest Level: 8 – 13 years

Available in: Cable TV Disney Channel and online at http://tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/goodluckcharlie/

Similar Programs: That’s So Raven, The Wizards of Waverly Place, iCarly

Subjects: friendship, perfectionism, jobs


Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (PG Movie).  Directed by Thor Freudenthal. 20th Century Fox, 2010. 92 minutes. $29.98

Plot: Based on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Books by Jeff Kinney, “Wimpy Kid” and middle school student Greg Heffley and best friend Rowley find trouble easily.  Convinced he can and must become popular, Greg attempts various activities to achieve that goal.  Rowley does not help Greg much, as, it seems, at every turn, Rowley is behaving in a way that causes Greg extreme embarrassment.  After many failed attempts at popularity, a run in with some bullies, and much gross-out humor along the way, Greg comes to a realization about what really matters.  Hint: it’s not being popular.

Review: Tweens may enjoy the gross humor and antics of Greg and Rowley, adults may not.  The first half of the movie moved slowly and lacked a cohesive plot, but the second half picked up a bit and had more substance.  For fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, this movie brings to life some of the familiar scenes, and cleverly integrated line drawings.  But the clever, compelling nature of the books is not paralleled in the movie.

E-Rating: ***

Genre(s): Humor

Reading/Interest Level: 9-13 years

Available in: DVD; Blu-ray; accompanying book,  The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary by Jeff Kinney

Subjects: middle school, popularity, friendship, bullying

Series Information: Movie based on the first book of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5-book series by Jeff Kinney

Main Characters

Greg Heffley: main character, diary writer, wimpy kid

Rowley: Greg’s, often immature and lovable, best friend

Rodrick: Greg’s older brother who is intent on torturing Greg as much as possible

Mr. and Mrs. Heffley: Greg’s not-so-cool parents

Angie: Friend of Greg and Rowley, school newspaper reporter