It’s time for another edition of “Children’s books unsuitable for children.” This one is brought to you by my brother Scott (a.k.a. “He of the amazing memory”). Scott reminded me of a collection of stories called "Der Struwwelpeter" that my father used to read to us in the original German. Remarkably warped, these are cautionary tales meant to scare children into obedience, proper behavior and good hygiene. Think Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle joins the Gestapo. They don’t need much commentary, so just sit back and let the experience of it wash over you like a wave. A very very twisted wave.
Highlights from "Der Struwwelpeter"
Messy-head-Peter demonstrates what happens to little boys who do not comb their hair or trim their nails.
In an act of curiosity reminiscent of our monkey friend George, Pauline plays with matches and burns herself to a crisp. (I love the touching detail of her weeping cats next to the pile of ashes and empty little shoes).
Augustus refuses to eat his soup and wastes away to nothing. Note to self: read this story to my picky eaters on a daily basis until appetites improve.
As evidence that A.D.D. existed in the 19th century, Johnny Head-in-Air isn’t paying attention to where he’s going and he winds up swimming with the fishes.
And the piece de resistance (or whatever is the German equivalent): Konrad is cured from his thumb-sucking habit through a most…um…effective method. Beware the tall tailor with giant scissors.
My brother claims we begged Dad to read us these stories. I do not remember this. But then again, I have (through years of extensive therapy no doubt) managed to block out the entire book. My sister Kathy (a.k.a. “She of the one-time thumb sucking habit”) however, was traumatized for life.
(To see the whole text, go here or here)