Sunday, March 18, 2012

If you think the Brothers Grimm are scary.....

   With "Grimm" and "Once Upon a Time" on T.V and two adaptations of Snow White coming to theaters this year it seems like people just can't get enough fairy tales. For those of you who think Disney tales are gospel, I suggest you read "Sixty Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm", my favorite translation its the one with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. These tales were meant to be a warning and a lesson to children.
Stay on the path and you'll make it to Granny's alive. Don't talk to strangers or go into house made of candy; you might get eaten. Be careful what you wish for.  
  Continuing on in the German tradition of scaring the crap out of kids is the book "Stuwwelpeter" (Merry Stories and Funny Pictures) by Heinrich Hoffman. In 1844 Hoffman was looking for a Christmas present  for his son and didn't find anything he liked, so he wrote and illustrated "Stuwwelpeter". His son and everyone who read the book loved it. It freaks us out, but maybe we are missing something about German humor.....
   Among the "merry tales" for the kiddies are stories about kids being burned alive, chowed on by dogs, nearly drowned, starving to death, dismemberment.....the perfect tales for a long winter's night........
   We have Struwwelpeter, Slovenly Peter, who nobody liked because he has personal hygiene issues. So kids, cut your hairs and take a bath every now and then...

The cats did try and warn her....maybe they should have cried
sooner to put out the flames, or at least explained
"stop, drop and tool"

   In "The Dreadful Story of Harriet and the Matches", Harriet's mom and grandmother leave her alone with a pack of matches and tell her not to play with them. Naturally Harriet does the opposite and sets herself on fire. Her two pet cats tell her not to play with matches, but who's going to listen to talking cats? She burns to death and all that's left of Harriet is her red shoes sitting in a puddle of cat tears. Maybe fire prevention can use this as a bedtime story. It should scare the arson right out of kids.

The bad boys get dipped in ink
   In "The Story of the Inky Boys" three boys make fun of little Black-a-moor so Agrippa (the nosey neighbor) decides to teach the three naughty boys a dunking them in his giant inkwell. Now the three naughty boys are darker than Black-a-moor. Not that this isn't a great lesson, but maybe there's another option other than drowning kids in ink....Maybe the parents could do something? Or this story could be a great way of turning the other cheek on racists.

Little boys who don't eat soup die

   In "The Story of Augustus who would not have any Soup" a little boy wastes away when he decides he hates soup. Now this story peaks our interest. In todays society picky little eaters get their way with Mom and Dad, why else are their all those books about blending vegetables to little bits to mix them in and fool your kids. Instead, just read them this lovely tale and tell them, "If you don't eat your food you will waste away into a stick person and die in 5 days".

The tailor cuts of the thumbsuckers thumbs
   In "The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb"  Mamma leaves Conrad alone (why are the parents NEVER around?!) and tells him to stop sucking his thumb or, "the great tall tailor" will come and "take his great sharp scissors out" and cut his  thumbs, "clean-off--you know, they never grow again".  Well thank you Mamma...yes, people can't regenerate their thumbs... Well, let's just say that Conrad ignores his mother and the tailor comes with his giant scissors and lops of his thumbs. When Mamma comes back she tells him that she knew he would suck his thumbs.

   If you want a modern take on the tales, head on over to Der Struwwelpeter, make sure the volume's up and just keep clicking those pictures. Our favorite book(s) about children with bad habits....Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle...Now that was teaching kids a lesson and no one had to die!

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