Roald Dahl, the best-loved of children's writers, was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. After school in England he went to work for Shell in Africa. He began to write after 'a monumental bash on the head', sustained as an RAF pilot in World War II. Roald Dahl died in 1990.
Imagine what would happen if a nervous young parson were re-afflicted with a peculiar strain of his childhood dyslexia, so that he unknowingly pronounced backwards only the most significant word in every sentence. In the fiendish hands of Roald Dahl, the parishioners must not only suffer the offense of praising Dog, but when the unsuspecting vicar attempts to compliment a group of little old ladies on the fact that each of them knits , his actual words incite chaos. Written for the benefit of the Dyslexia Institute in London, this slight book employs a host of jocular (though sometimes vulgar) malaprops to accentuate the beleaguered parson's condition. Blake's daffy illustrations have long captured the outrageous humor of Dahl's text, and this collaboration proves no exception. Of special interest is the illustrator's touching tribute at the end of the book, both to the late author's talent and to his ``passionate belief in the importance of reading,'' which inspired this, his last book. Ages 8-up. (Mar.)
Gr 3-5-- Rev. Robert Lee develops a peculiar form of dyslexia and occasionally words come out of his mouth backwards. (For example, his name becomes ``eel.'') To cure this problem, he walks backwards. While the story has moments of typical Dahl humor, it loses momentum by unfortunately--and unnecessarily--resorting to bathroom humor. He exhorts women at their First Communion to pis (``sip'') along the rail, and requests that parishioners not krap (``park'') along the front of the church. Such references reduce what starts out as a very clever, amusing book to something more on a par with 101 Tasteless Jokes. Blake's illustrations are, as always, full of life and humor, and his depictions of the parishioners and townspeople are without equal. It's unfortunate that Dahl seems to have chosen the easy way out to create his humor. --Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, Buffalo, NY