My son and daughter in law have asked for some children’s books for their baby shower. I plan to give them many of the books we have at home. They have been used for both son and daughter, and are a little worn, but they are still wonderful. I will not, however, give them any of the stories I ran across the other day-German cautionary tales by Heinrich Hoffman. This is how Wikipedia describes them:
Der Struwwelpeter (“shock-headed Peter”) is an 1845 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.The title of the first story provides the title of the whole book. Der Struwwelpeter is one of the earliest books for children that combines visual and verbal narratives in a book format, and is considered a precursor to comic books.
- Struwwelpeter describes a boy who does not groom himself properly and is consequently unpopular.
- In Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich (“the story of wicked Frederick”), a violent boy terrorizes animals and people. Eventually he is bitten by a dog, who goes on to eat the boy’s sausage while he is bedridden.
- In Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug (“the very sad story of the matches”), a girl plays with matches and burns to death.
- In Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben (“the story of the black boys”), Nikolas (or “Agrippa” in some translations) catches three boys teasing a dark-skinned boy. To teach them a lesson, he dips them in black ink.
- Die Geschichte von dem wilden Jäger (“the story of the wild huntsman”) is the only story not primarily focused on children. In it, a hare steals a hunter’s musket and eyeglasses and begins to hunt the hunter. In the ensuing chaos, the hare’s child is burned by hot coffee and the hunter falls into a well.
- In Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher (“the story of the thumb-sucker”), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.
- Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar (“the story of Soup-Kaspar”) begins as Kaspar (or “Augustus” in some translations), a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.
- In Die Geschichte vom Zappel-Philipp (“the story of fidgety Philip”), a boy who won’t sit still at dinner accidentally knocks all of the food onto the floor, to his parents’ great displeasure.
- Die Geschichte von Hans Guck-in-die-Luft (“the story of Johnny Look-at-Air”) concerns a boy who habitually fails to watch where he’s walking. One day he walks into a river; he is soon rescued, but his writing-book drifts away.
- In Die Geschichte vom fliegenden Robert (“the story of flying Robert”), a boy goes outside during a storm. The wind catches his umbrella and lifts him high into the air. The story ends with the boy sailing into the distance.
Not the most comforting books to get little ones to sleep.
What were your favorite books from your childhood? What are your favorite children’s books now?