The Vicar of Nibbleswicke

by Roald Dahl
Reviewed date: 2010 Jun 25
48 pages
cover art

Roald Dahl usually is bizarre, funny, and inoffensive. However, The Vicar of Nibbleswicke is bizarre, funny, and offensive. It's completely inappropriate for children.

The premise is cute: For his first assignment as a minister, the Reverend Robert Lee is the sent to be the vicar for the village of Nibbleswicke. The stress is too much for him, and something clicks in his brain: he comes down with a rare dyslexia-related disease that causes him to unknowingly say certain words backwards. For example, trap becomes part, pastor becomes rotsap, and so forth. The parishioners don't realize he suffers from a disease, so they don't know quite what to make of their new vicar.

Reverend Lee's condition leads to hilarious misunderstanding, such as when he pays a visit to Miss Prewt: he addresses her as Miss Twerp, and calls her pet a "good little god."

Now comes the offensive part. Instead of harmless misunderstandings and hijinks, Roald Dahl goes straight for the obscenities. Reverend Lee shocks the ladies of the parish by instructing them not to gulp the communion wine, but to pis. Pis pis pis. Then on Sunday he announces to the congregation that they should not krap on the side of the road.

The silly dyslexia-related illness is a clever idea, but it's completely inappropriate and unnecessary to fall back on vulgarities to make a joke. The Vicar of Nibbleswicke is a children's book ruined by foul language. Dahl surely could have written a funny clean book; he's talented enough. But he didn't, and The Vicar of Nibbleswicke gets a huge thumbs down from me.

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