The Tragic Tale of Kaspar
The Sad Story of Pauline
Because, in her comment to the last post, Betty M reminded me of Strewwelpeter, that whimsically gruesome collection of cautionary tales for 19th century children. As you'll see in the before-and-after pictures above (labeled for your convenience)(click to enlarge) it's the macabre details that give the book its distinctive, um, charm.
Chubby Kaspar refuses to eat his soup and, shortly thereafter, starves to death, leaving behind only a little grave festooned with an oversized soup tureen.
Pauline, ignoring the sage warnings of her talking cats, plays with matches and is, alas, reduced to a heap of ashes. However, her shiny red shoes (apparently made of asbestos) manage to survive the conflagration in remarkably good shape.
Though the book is wildly inappropriate for children, I have to admit that, as a timid child, I loved it. Because -- and it's not hard to understand why -- just about the only things that didn't terrify me were the ones I should have been afraid of.