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Roald Dahl’s "Revolting Rhymes" Pulled From Store Shelves

Article Lead - narrow60918504109r0f1409225893538.jpg-300x0The late Roald Dahl may be a widely respected children’s author, but he can still inspire controversy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian branch of the Aldi supermarket chain recently pulled one of Dahl’s books from its shelves. Much to everyone’s surprise, the book in question, Revolting Rhymes, had a revolting rhyme in it:

The offending word is found in Dahl’s comical take on the Cinderella fairy tale. In it, the prince sees Cinderella in her impoverished rags as he goes house to house trying to find the owner of the shoe left behind at the palace ball.

"The Prince cried, 'Who’s this dirty slut?" the poem reads. "'Off with her nut! Off with her nut!'"

Revolting Rhymes, first published in 1982, is a collection of poems which takes six well-known fairy tales and gives them a modern, comical spin.

Aldi pulled the book after receiving a single complaint from a parent who didn’t realize that a book called Revolting Rhymes would have revolting rhymes in it.

That decision has not proved popular with other parents (thank goodness), with some leaving comments on Aldi’s FB page like:

"I am appalled at Aldi withdrawing the Roald Dahl book, Revolting Rhymes," one customer wrote. "I am a frequent shopper at your Rydalmere store – BUT NO MORE!! You people are absolutely pathetic to cave in to such a petty complaint about one word in this book."

I myself have never read this book, and in fact I have never even heard of it today.  But I can understand the lone parent’s objection to the language of that book.

It is important to protect impressionable children from language that might influence them. For example, I was forced to read the Bible at a young age and my psyche has never recovered from all the rape, murder, and incest.

Sydney Morning Herald

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Olympia Press August 28, 2014 um 3:52 pm

Hell, Dahl wrote a book called Switch Bitch back in the ’70s when everybody was doing smut. Over it, get.

Worst was Felix Salten, author of Bambi, who also did The Memoirs of Josephine Mutzenbacher, Austria’s answer to Justine by the Marquis de Sade.

Olympia Press August 28, 2014 um 3:55 pm

Actually, correction. Book was first published in the ’60s, after Candy, then reissued with a sexed-up cover by Warner in the ’70s. Four stories on sex in any case.

Ebook Bargains UK August 29, 2014 um 7:43 am

"I was forced to read the Bible at a young age and my psyche has never recovered from all the rape, murder, and incest."

Fear not, Nate. Salvation is at hand!

Passive Guy (from the Amazon-affiliate blog The Passive Voice) explains all in his Kindle ebook –

And yes, this $10.49 ebook is by the same PG who takes great delight in explaining how there is no conceivable justification for pricing an ebook over ten dollars, and regularly slamming Hachette for even thinking of doing so.

The fact that Hachette only prices its front-list new releases at these levels is neither here nor there. Not sure quite why it’s therefore okay for PG’s publisher to have set an original digital price for his ebook is $18.99.

Of course Hachette is a traditional publisher, and as PG said, "We. Don’t. Care. How. Traditional. Publishing. Works."

PG regularly explains in great detail how no author need ever sign a bad contract with a trad publisher, and as an experienced contract lawyer he should know.

Yet PG it seems to have signed a contract for his own book with a small-time trad publisher and let it go out at an exorbitant ebook list price of $18.99, and that three years later is still priced over Amazon’s oh-so-important $10 ceiling. I can’t see any Hachette ebooks from three years ago priced at anywhere near that.

PG, in case you hadn’t heard, there are no printing costs, delivery costs and returns for ebooks, so this sort of pricing is simply fleecing the public. Quite apart from that you’d sell tons more if you lowered the price, don’t’cha know.

It must be true because Amazon said so.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with Amazon trying to increase the shift from print to digital so it can save a small fortune on shipping those big heavy hardbacks to its Prime members for "free". Nothing at all. Suggestions that Amazon is offering to GIVE its Prime members a dollar a time to accept regular shipping rather than the free expedited shipping, because "free" shipping costs are hurting its bottom line, are just malicious rumours.

Nate Hoffelder August 29, 2014 um 2:27 pm

You know, i was going to argue the point but you’re right. It is strange that a self-pub advocate like David has a traditionally published book.

Timothy Wilhoit August 29, 2014 um 4:43 pm

It might be helpful to know that Covenant Communications is an LDS(Latter Day Saints) publisher which is owned by Deseret which is owned by the LDS church. David Vandergriff is LDS(according to the book blurb). That had a great deal to do with his decision.

Nate Hoffelder August 29, 2014 um 5:03 pm

Yes, I did notice all that, and I was going to use it to defend him, but it’s still a little strange.

Then again, since this is an LDS publisher and an LDS book, signing with Covenant might actually have been the best way to get the book in front of the broadest LDS audience. So this could be an exception to any hard and fast rule.

Timothy Wilhoit August 29, 2014 um 5:26 pm

It could be a bit more than that. I’m not familiar with the ways of the LDS church, but an LDS member publishing any consideration of the doctrine of the church may be "expected" to publish it through Deseret or Covenant. I’m not saying it would be an excommunication offense but it might be frowned upon…or I could be wrong.

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