Boy, did I take a lot of pictures at the Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show. It’ll take me days to sort them into coherent categories. While I toil away, please enjoy this batch of children’s books. Some of them are delightful, some of them frightful, and others impolite-ful. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.
Here’s a “Pocket Edition” of The Hobbit that only a true optimist or a connoisseur of clown pants could call pocket-sized. It’s rather adorable, all the same.
Ho ho, Toot & Puddle! What funny names those are. And look–they live in a place called Woodcock Pocket. Tee-hee, tee-hee! Of course, that’s just me being prurient. In reality, children’s literature is a serious art form that should occasion no mirth whatsoev-
Oh dear. Let’s move on, shall we?
Der Struwwelpeter (1845) (or Shockheaded Peter) is a German children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann. It comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an exaggerated way.
I understand that literature must be viewed within the context of its time. With that said, what in the name of Christ was going on in mid-nineteenth century Germany? And what sort of misbehavior is punishable by transformation in a frizzy-haired, barrel-chested, wraith-fingered, red-cheeked abomination? More to the point: which of the Elder Gods did Struwwelpeter upset?
Once again, Wikipedia comes to the rescue:
“Struwwelpeter” describes a boy who does not groom himself properly and is consequently unpopular.
Ah. You know, all things considered, I’d say unpopularity is the least of Peter’s worries. The boy’s more in need of an exorcist than a makeover.
But brace yourselves, kids, ’cause Peter ain’t got nothing on Bertha Upton’s The Vege-Men’s Revenge. This is hands-down one of the most disturbing children’s stories I’ve ever seen, though the synopsis makes it sound harmless enough:
Poppy, a little girl, is taken to Vege-man’s land by Don Tomato and Herr Carrot, where the king demands that she be placed in a hole in the ground to learn how to grow.
Here we see Poppy meeting the aforementioned Don and Herr, unaware that anything is amiss (though perhaps Don Tomato’s muttered allusions to cement shoes should have clued her in):
Following her fateful meeting with the Vege-King, Poppy is placed in a hole and instructed to grow. The true horror arises when she does exactly that.
Oh, but we’re just getting started. For young Poppy soon bears edible tubers, into which her consciousness (and the pattern of her dress) is transferred.
The Vege-Men take the Poppy tubers and proceed to cook and consume them.
Poppy then awakens, shaken by her macabre dream.
The moral of this story? Unless you want to get lost in the sort of nightmare David Lynch has after bingeing on salad, do not, under any circumstances, eat your vegetables.
There was a lot of Sambo at this book show. In a way, I understand: copies of Little Black Sambo are few and far between these days, and you’re unlikely to find one outside this type of venue. On the other hand, there’s totally a reason they’re rare, you guys. Sambo’s parents are called Mumbo and Jumbo, for Christ’s sake.
Ah, well. Let us turn elsewhere for more politically correct entertainment.
That’s better. Noddy. Good ol’ wholesome Noddy. Beloved by generations of British youngsters. Surely there’s nothing in here to give offense.
Yikes. Apparently the thing Noddy should be looking out for (but almost certainly isn’t) is institutionalized racism. What a scamp!