Australian supermarket takes Roald Dahl classic off its shelves

By Cindy Tran

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. Photo / Penguin
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. Photo / Penguin

A supermarket chain in Australia has removed from its the shelves one of Roald Dahl's classics after complaints that the book contained the word "slut".

Budget supermarket Aldi confirmed that it removed Revolting Rhymes, published in 1982, from sale.

The collection of poems reinterprets six well-known fairy tales but features twisted plots instead of the traditional happily-ever-after.

Dahl's take on the Cinderella fairy tale sees Prince Charming decapitate Cinderella's two ugly step sisters' heads and she ends up marrying a jam-maker after she wished to marry a decent man.

"Poor Cindy's heart was torn to shreds. My Prince! she thought. He chops off heads! How could I marry anyone who does that sort of thing for fun? The Prince cried, 'Who's this dirty slut? Off with her nut! Off with her nut!'," the rhyme goes.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the ban followed after a customer posted on the supermarket's Facebook on Wednesday that the book had "an unacceptable word in it for kids" but the comment has since been removed from the page.

Aldi replied on Facebook that, "This particular book has been removed from sale. If you wish to return the book, you can do so at your local ALDI store."

An Aldi spokeswoman confirmed the book had been removed off shelves after "comments by a limited number of concerned customers regarding the language used in this particular book". But other books by the children's author will continue to be stocked in stores, she said.

"Aldi Australia would like to inform all of our customers that we take the concerns from the community seriously," she said.

Andy Griffiths, the author of Australian children's classic The Day My Bum Went Psycho told Guardian Australia that "this is the kind of material that kids love because kids want to go to those darker places and to the icky places, and explore them".

"One of the best ways to do that is with humour, so that you touch the fearsome, the fearful, the disgusting that we all know is there, and the kids need to have it acknowledged," he said.

"But with humour you take away the fear from that, it neutralises it and makes it something you can celebrate in a healthy way."

Mr Griffiths said Dahl's Revolting Rhymes was the inspiration for his children's novel, The Bad Book, which was removed from some school libraries and bookshops following complaints when it was released a decade ago.

"Parents need to be reassured that it's OK to read about people being beheaded, particularly if they're evil, and this is a healthy phase of children's development. I would say to them, it's OK if you don't want your child reading that [Roald Dahl] book, of course you have ultimate say.

"But what you don't have the right to do is dictate to other parents and other children what they can access, because most people are very comfortable with it and understand that it's incredibly useful.

"The worst effect it's going to have is to turn your children into lifelong readers."

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