21 November 2004

how come no one writes books like *this* for children anymore?

When I was a little girl, one of my absolute favorite books was Der Stuwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann. My Grandpa Baumle gave me a German language version of the book and would translate it for me when he visited from Florida. When I was a little older, my grade-school librarian gave me the school's English language blue paperback (published by Grolier, I think?) when she noticed that I was the only one who checked it out -- and I checked it out a lot.

My brothers and I *adored* these scary rhymes! One brother liked to play with fire, so we read "The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches", with the kittens' pitiful cries: "Make haste, make haste! me-ow! me-o! / She'll burn to death,- we told her so." The other brother was forever sucking his fingers, which called for "The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb". From what I gather, these lines caused my brother terror for years (and never did "cure" him):

"The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs.
And ere they dream what he's about
He takes his great sharp scissors
And cuts their thumbs clean off, - and then
You know, they never grow again."

When Pyromaniac brother's son was born, we sent him an English language version of the book. I don't know if my nephew's mama will let him read the book -- many people seem appalled that we had this as children! -- but I hope one day he knows the rhymes and passes them down, too.

All this to say that I found a rockin' cool Struwwelpeter site today, enabling you to check out different translations and to read the entire book on-line.

(I dunno. Maybe we were just less sensitive in general back in the day? I mean, the Grimm tales I read with greedy gusto from the age of four or so on would cause more than a few raised eyeborws were I to bring them out in Story time...)

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