Helen’s Roald Dahl challenge book 04 – The Twits

About the book
How do you outwit a Twit? Mr. and Mrs. Twit are the smelliest, 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.

Mr Twit hates his wife. Mrs Twit detests her husband. They like nothing more than playing wicked tricks on one another. Sooner or later, things are going to go too far…

Even in real life Roald Dahl was very suspicious of men with beards. He thought they must be hiding something sinister. Michael Rosen, who wrote a book called Fantastic Mr Dahl all about Roald and his stories, remembers that the first time he and Roald met, Roald told Michael’s son Joe that his beard was “disgusting.”

Mr Twit has a beard. His is dirty and has bits of food clinging to it. Quentin Blake’s illustrations in the original story show cornflakes, tinned sardines and even stilton cheese stuck in the bristles on Mr Twit’s face. In fact, he and his equally unlovely wife, Mrs Twit, are just about as horrible as can be – but there are a few characters who might just have found a way to outsmart this nasty pair…

The Twits, first published in 1980, may be about a pair of horrible twits, but it also features one of the most-quoted phrases in all of Roald’s books…

and a  piece from the Guardian here
About the Authorroald-dahl-640x360

Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter of Norwegian descent, who rose to prominence in the 1940’s with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world’s bestselling authors. read more at Goodreads.com
My review
What a great opening line – “What a lot of hairy-faced men there are around nowadays.”.  What a funny little story. I wasn’t sure what to make of this. two people who are married making war with each other. How peculiar. I think this was one of my Sister’s favourites, but I’m not sure.  Like Roald Dahl I don’t like beards. I don’t know why but it’s always stuck with me. In this case it’s of a man who apparently was born a twit who likes to play tricks on his wife and vice versa. There’s also, I hate to say it a touch of bullying and animal cruelty in it, but in the end the animals are smarter than the Twits and get their revenge and head back home to Africa.
I’ve not got much to say on this one but after a little research I found it was for 5-8 years olds so thats probably why it’s such quick paced and you could say to the point. Brilliant descriptions on the characters, so strong that you come to hate them and shout hooray! when the animals seek their revenge.
“So what I want to know is this. How often do all these hairy-faced men wash their faces? It is only once a week, like us, on Sunday nights? And do they shampoo it? Do they use a hair-dryer? Do they rub hair-tonic in to stop their faces from going bald? Do they go to a barber to have their hairy faces cut and trimmed or do they do it themselves in front of the bathroom mirror with nail-scissors?”
It’s a lovely book with fantastic illustrations from Quentin Blake and a beautiful tale by Roald Dahl. I can see why every one is so fond of him. He creates fantastic characters, There appears to be hidden morals in the stories perhaps only picked up later in life when we re-read them, and most of all they are a light-hearted read.
I think you should go pick up a book now and see what I mean.
And I leave you with this:
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Thank you for reading

World Book Night 2015

We’re ready for you now!!!


EVENT – Sense and Sensibility in Leeds

Leeds Arts Centre is an amateur drama group based at the Carriageworks Theatre in Millennium Square in Leeds. Their next production might be of interest to some of the LBC members*!!


23 April 2015 – 25 April 2015

Main Auditorium: 7:15pm

​presented by Leeds Arts Centre
By Jane Austen, adapted by Jessica Swale

When bereavement compels Mrs Dashwood to move out of the family home, her eldest daughters, sensible, restrained Elinor and fiery, passionate Marianne, have to marry well to survive. But their ideal is to find true love.
Who will win their affections – shy Edward Ferrars, steadfast Colonel Brandon or the dashing Mr Willoughby?
This adaptation of a well-loved romance has an explosive mix of competing lovers, nosey neighbours and greedy relatives. Will Elinor and Marianne find their heart’s desire?

Price:   £12 (£9 concession)

Contact details:   0113 224 3801
Check out the events page HERE



*If anyone who goes would like to review the production – I’d be delighted to publish it on our theatre page!!

My 2015 World Book Night choice

logo-3e7f897841e4955042171959b9b03c0aReal Poems for Unreal Times

#WBN has been running for four years now. This is the third year that I have been participating and the third year that I’ll be handing out my first choice pick – this year it’s Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy.

I love poetry. Before I could read – heck, before I could speak – I was surrounded by tiny tales…that rhymed! The vast majority of us are introduced to language, stories and literacy via poetry and nursery rhymes so it always surprises me when people don’t enjoy poems or see them as relevant to their lives.

Deep down I believe that if the poetry you’re reading isn’t calling out to you; you probably haven’t encountered the ‘right’ poems yet! And if all you’re coming across are daffodil’s or Grecian urns (not that there’s anything wrong with the classics, but there’s a time and place!), it’s completely understandable.

wbn 04Which brings me to the Staying Alive trilogy. The first book was released in 2002 with sequels in 2004 and 2011. The goal of the books was to highlight contemporary poets and poems – of pushing forward new works that speak to us all; for where we are *now*, regardless of our location, our differing experiences, … and whether we love poetry or not.

The overarching theme is to reflect the differing ways in which we live in the modern world. The poems in these books are collected from all over the world, demonstrating that at our core, we are all tacking the same thoughts and issues. There are poems focusing on how we cope with identity, love, fear, wonder; to just *being* and imagining and coping with the world around us.

The World Book Night compilation has selected 100 poems from the 1500 so far released in the three anthologies. Neil Astley (the editor) is at pains to note that these are not a selection of ‘best off’s'; but rather a travel companion, an opportunity to take these experiences and reflections with you as we traverse the globe.

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.


James Wright



As my friend and Book Guru Jess Haigh writes –
Do enjoy World Book Night, wherever you are celebrating. The aim of the whole enterprise is to get more people reading for pleasure, so even if you’re not a giver, why not recommend a book to someone you know isn’t a reader?
Create an office bookshelf, join a book club, leave a book on a train or in the pub with a note saying why people should read it.
And I hope that if you are lucky enough to be a giver that you have a fantastic time and remember that one of those books you give could change someone’s life.
wbn 01wbn 02 wbn 03
The #WBN Blurb

“Staying Alive”, “Being Alive” and “Being Human” have introduced many thousands of new readers to contemporary poetry, and have helped poetry lovers to discover the little known riches of world poetry. These books have been enormously popular with readers, especially as gift books and bedside companions.

The poems by writers from many parts of the world have emotional power, intellectual edge and playful wit. This pocketbook selection of 100 essential poems from the trilogy is a “Staying Alive” travel companion (also available as an e-book). As well as selecting favourite poems from the trilogy, readers’ and writers’ choices as well as his own favourites, editor Neil Astley provides background notes on the poets and poems.

These essential poems are all about being human, being alive and staying alive: about love and loss; fear and longing; hurt and wonder; war and death; grief and suffering; birth, growing up and family; time, ageing and mortality; memory, self and identity; faith, hope and belief…all of human life in a hundred highly individual, universal poems.

World Book Night 2015

Originally posted on Jess Haigh:

World Book Night is now in its fourth year and 2015 bring’s its possibly most eclectic collection yet. As well as some popular genre fiction such as Lynda La Plante’s Prime Suspect, and Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice there is some cracking YA: some of the more popular Quick Reads: one of the most famous products of NaNoWriMo, Water for Elephants: SciFi scare fest The Martian and tales of real life hardship from around the world. And much much more. This year also includes it’s first poetry collection, Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Collection, which will be a lovely way of introducing people to reading. Dissapointingly no graphic novels-as I believe having Judge Dredd on the list back in 2013 was one of WBN’s bigger successes, but a great list all the same.

This year I’ll be once again helping the Big Bookend give away books to students at Leeds…

View original 749 more words

Fancy Dress Ball – Compare Books to Film versions!

Recently, I was sent an email about a really interesting project and asked to include it on the blog. I eagerly agreed…then was completely distracted by World Book Night (Thursday, 23rd April, from 6pm at the White Swan Pub in Leeds City Centre, if you are interested!).

Apologies to Fancy Dress Ball for the delayed postage!

International Children’s Book Day

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, 2 April, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together.

Often ICBD is linked to celebrations around children’s books and other special events that may include encounters with authors and illustrators, writing competitions or announcements of book awards.

Fancy Dress Ball decided to embrace International Children’s Book Day and World Book Day (March 5th) by tackling one of the great debate topics of our age – BOOKS versus FILMS!

To aid in their deliberations, they created an infographic comparing books to their film adaptations.

Using IMDB and expert opinions, the graphic provides an interesting view on adaptations of well known classics. It also evaluates the preferred version… Have a peek and see if you agree! As you might imagine, I’m very pro-book…but it’s hard to argue that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz didn’t come into it’s own on the silver screen!

Here’s a look at some adaptations of Roald Dahl works (oooh, @LBCPuffins – thoughts?)

roald dahl

To view the full infographic on the Fancy Dress Ball blog  reviewing Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Jungle Book and Bambi – click HERE 

To have a read of their entry – click HERE

Thanks again for letting us know about this!


Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow – Peter Hoeg (translated by Felicity David)

LBC Outlaws

Date:  Wednesday 1st of April 2015
Time:  6:00pm
Address: Harper Street, LS2 7EA






It happened in the Copenhagen snow. A six-year-old boy, a Greenlander like Smilla, fell to his death from the top of his apartment building. While the boy’s body is still warm, the police pronounce his death an accident. But Smilla knows her young neighbour didn’t fall from the roof on his own. Soon she is following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow. For her dead neighbour, and for herself, she must embark on a harrowing journey of lies, revelation and violence that will take her back to the world of ice and snow from which she comes, where an explosive secret waits beneath the ice…


MISS SStraight into the discussion this month as we talked about whether a man can write effectively as a female narrator. The general feeling was yes but we did wonder whether that was because the translation was so good and if the characterisation of Smilla was equally as good in its native Danish. We did agree that she does come across complete as a person and a character.

We then asked if any scientific understanding enhances the enjoyment of the book. Mostly because I didn’t understand the science bits and so found the book hard to read. Everyone else loved those parts with some exploring further after reading.

For some reason we questioned Smilla’s sense of direction which led to a lovely story of Helen not being able to find her way out of the toilets in a shopping mall. I love book club!

We then moved onto the cultural divide of Greenland versus Denmark and how it’s not often you see something written from a Greenlandic point of view discussing how this affects our characters.

Going onto then what seems to be a new part of Outlaws – discussing the film adaption as so many of our choices seem to have been made into movies lately. As usual it seems to have been Americanised with the ending completely re-written so there is a definitive finish rather than the books ambiguous ending. We agreed we found the book ending more refreshing and liked the idea of the reader drawing their own conclusions of what happened to the characters.

Also why was Jim Broadbent in the film?? Not your typical Scandinavian actor. Although we agreed he’d be a better choice for The Mechanic than the actual one of Gabriel Byrne. Speaking of which – discussing the Mechanic we wondered why no one was ever happy in a Scandinavian novel.

We enjoyed the writing style commenting on the choice of words used in the translation and how they flowed really well. A good mix of some Danish and German words thrown in. We liked the alternate theory of why dinosaurs died out – being attacked by parasites although it would be difficult to prove.



For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub or @LBCOutlaws

The Pub can be contacted on @CrowdofFavours 

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #LBCOutlaws

Calling all World Book Night book Givers


Are you a giver this year? Then why not join Leeds book Club at The White Swan in Leeds City Centre from 6pm to share your book choice. Lets get people reading. Contact us on  leedsbookclub@gmail.com and get involved!!!

Find out what happened last year here

‘World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading and books that takes place on 23 April. It sees passionate volunteers give out hundreds of thousands of books in their communities to share their love of reading with people who don’t read regularly or own books. World Book Night is run by The Reading Agency, a national charity that inspires people to become confident and enthusiastic readers to help give them an equal chance in life’ – Blurb from the world book Night site


Like every year at World Book Night…


We would love it if our book clubbers would bring their bakes on the night.

We have had some amazing bakes brought and would love to see them again!

Just bring them along, and with any books you wish to swap!

See previous bakes here

Fictional foods – yummy!

This morning I came across this article on Packed Lunch ideas from Fictional Foods which instantly made me hungry and prompted me to try and remember my favourite fictional foods.

Plants v Zombies

Plants v Zombies

I always wanted to go to one of the midnight feasts at Malory Towers (@isfromupnorth – you with me?) – though I’d avoid the hard boiled eggs that Enid Blyton seemed to find an essential ingredient of all young peoples meals. And if Aunt Marilla (Anne of Green Gables) had ever offered to bake for me – I’d have jumped at the chance!

I’m pretty sure that it was a similarly aged book that had me try nettle tea for the first time (result – my nana apparently used to greatly enjoy it, me…not so much!) though I can’t for the life of me think what it was! And of course the bitter disappointment that I felt upon first tasting Turkish Delight – after reading about it in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – still pangs to this day.

Plum puffs - Aunt Marilla

Plum puffs – Aunt Marilla

A quick search on the internet lead me to Fiction Food – a website that is devoted to food stuffs found in books, comics, manga, tv and films – as well as Ficitonal Food – which appears to specialist in creating foods appropriate for particular fictional worlds – such as Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games (oooh, peeta’s cheese buns sounded good!) and Harry Potter (though I’m a bit like Hermione in that I’m not sure that I actually count the feasts – after all that was the (unpaid) work of Elves and not really something that I can actually replicate).

It’s probably important for me to point out now that I do NOT cook. Or bake. Nor have I ever demonstrated anything like a basic proficiency in the kitchen. However, I was so caught up in the world created by Fannie Flagg in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe that I’ve tried at least half of Sipsey’s recipes in the back of the book!

ff 01

What are your favourite fictional foods? Have you actually tried to make them? Did it work?

Also – any fictional foods that you just LOATHE? Lembas bread (Lord of the Rings) doesn’t count – bland ain’t always bad you know! The brain and noodle soup from iZombie does qualify – it sounds pretty awful to me!! I was always equally torn with regards to Roald Dahl – some of it sounded wonderful – other bits sounded just HORRIFIC!

*Just asked himself – he got the tip to add sherry into omlettes from Happy Like Barnacles.


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