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Inappropriate children's books

(28 Posts)
LikeMustard Sat 09-May-15 13:18:15

Hi everyone. I recently discovered that a book I remember from my Danish childhood is not as wonderful as I remember it but instead actually completely inappropriate. You can read it here: likemustard.com/2015/05/04/smoking-cannibalism-and-murder-for-children-a-book-review/

I wonder if it's just a Danish thing or if the UK has similar horrifying children's books from the past? Or if you are from another country with terrible children's books I would love to see your examples too.

ejecoms Thu 28-May-15 19:42:51

Struwwelpeter! I used to have nightmares about it. It features children with anorexia, burning to death and I think drowning. Apparently the author wrote it to stop his 3 year old sucking his thumb...

fortunately Thu 28-May-15 19:50:17

Oh yes Struwwelpeter is fucking horrific shock

jeee Thu 28-May-15 19:55:36

Not half as bad on some levels. On other levels I think it might actually be worse. I banned my dc from reading my early editions of Enid Blyton's 'Adventure' series. The racism was rampant. Current paperbacks have been subtly but effectively altered to remove the worst of the racism.

But on a positive note, as the children have got older we've looked at the books and had some discussions about racism and changing attitudes.

jeee Thu 28-May-15 19:57:53

Actually when I think about it, Hans Christian Anderson is pretty disturbing - The Red Shoes is horrendous. And the Little Mermaid isn't exactly Disney in the original. Danish again.....

MrsLeighHalfpenny Thu 28-May-15 19:58:25

Most childresnsy fairy tales are pretty horrific when you think about them: Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Pied Piper etc etc

fortunately Thu 28-May-15 20:01:59

The Pied Piper is based on a true story!

applecatchers36 Thu 28-May-15 20:04:48

Stranger Danger by Jimmy Saville

Talk about hiding in plain sight

www.amazon.co.uk/Benjamin-Rabbit-The-Stranger-Danger/dp/0600311090

LikeMustard Thu 28-May-15 20:14:47

I had to Google Struwwelpeter. Wow.

True about the fairy tales, but it is slightly different, since they are old folk tales, Hans Christian Anderson just wrote them down. A lot of them, anyway. Childrens books written in modern times have less of an excuse to be horrific.

cariadlet Fri 29-May-15 07:37:51

I started reading Enid Blyton's Famous Five series to dd and couldn't believe the snobbery in them. I'd never noticed when reading them myself as a child. I hate the way the Famous Five talk to the working class adults they meet - ordering them about, addressing them by their surname alone etc.

Oscar Wilde's fairytales are pretty upsetting. Some of them used to make me cry.

HagOtheNorth Fri 29-May-15 07:42:02

Anderson wrote his stories with a strong, Christian message that's often not friendly. The Grimms collected folktales, many of which were not intended for children as the original audience.

CtrlAltDelicious Fri 29-May-15 07:42:16

Cariadlet did Oscar Wilde write the Happy Prince? I cried my eyes out at that one and remember thinking what twisted individual thought this would make a good story for children??

Agree totally with the Enid Blyton stories. The snobbery, the rudeness to adults they perceived as "lower" than themselves, the "swarthy gentlemen" who were always the criminals, Sam - the "Negro" with his prepostrous way of talking. It's actually unbelieveable!

cariadlet Fri 29-May-15 07:44:20

I've just clicked on the link in the OP. Sorry to offend any Danes reading this thread, but the book looks awful - and not just because of the distasteful ideas and images.
The drawings are terrible. They look like something a (not particularly talented) teenager has drawn. I can't believe that the author won loads of awards.

cariadlet Fri 29-May-15 07:47:17

Yes, Oscar Wilde did write the Happy Prince. That's one of the ones I was thinking about. There was another one called The Birthday of the Spanish Infanta that used to have me in tears as well.
www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/BirInf.shtml

saturnvista Fri 29-May-15 07:48:17

I had a series of books about a character called 'Little Black Sambo'. They were really racist and scary and I loved them

cariadlet Fri 29-May-15 07:51:37

I vaguely remember "Little Black Sambo". My sister used to borrow it from the local library all the time. I just about remember a crocodile chasing him, but he escaped. As children we didn't think they were offensive at all. It would be interesting to have a look at them now and see if they seem racist or just old fashioned.

cariadlet Fri 29-May-15 07:56:03

I've just found this on the internet. The pictures are pretty awful, because they are such caricatures. But the actual story is fine. I can see why children would like it.

www.sterlingtimes.co.uk/sambo.htm

BurntPizza Fri 29-May-15 08:00:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ThisOnesForYou Fri 29-May-15 08:02:45

The Gashlycrumb Tinies written by Edward Gorey (American):

vimeo.com/9541632

RustyBear Fri 29-May-15 08:07:11

Are you the author of the blog, OP? If so, you might like to know that the author doesn't think doesn't think Irish people are tiny and live in thimbles, those are Leprechauns. In fact the author thinks that Irish people still dress in 19th century clothes and travel in donkey carts...

Cooroo Fri 29-May-15 08:20:48

I loved Struwelpeter. I don't think scariness is a bad thing in a children's book, they don't take it all that seriously. I didn't anyway. I wouldn't have given my daughter Little Black Sambo (or its companion Little Black Mingo, both of which I had in the 1960s!), although the actual stories were inoffensive. By all means avoid the racist, the snobby, the sexist - but please let us keep cautionary tales and scary fairy tales!

Cooroo Fri 29-May-15 08:21:45

And what RustryBear said - definitely leprechauns!

LikeMustard Fri 29-May-15 12:28:13

cariadlet - I simultaneously agree with you and feel slightly offended as a Dane. He won awards because he was kind of an anti-war poet and I can see why adults love his poetry. But yeah, this book is awful and inappropriate, which is why I wrote the blog.

NickySummerbee Fri 29-May-15 12:33:20

There is a much nicer edition of Little Black Sambo available called The Story of Little Babaji.

LikeMustard Fri 29-May-15 12:36:34

RustyBear - yes I am the author. Leprechauns! Of course! I have lived in the UK for a few years now and have heard people mention them but still not quite sure what they are. Are they similar to the Danish nisse (tomte) who come out at Christmas time? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomte

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