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The YA Book of the Year (The Year is 1845)

Come children, and listen to the most incredibly German children's book you will ever read.

The YA Book of the Year (The Year is 1845)

BOOK REPORT for Der Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffman

Cover Story: You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
Drinking Buddy: Zum wohl!
Testosterone Level: Not the Belt, Papa!
Talky Talk: Those Were the Days
Bonus Factor: Illustrations
Bromance Status: What's On TV?

Cover Story: You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

That's our title character, Shock-Head Peter. The poor boy who refused to comb his hair or trim his nails, and well, just look at the results. Rather upsetting, no?

Oh, just you wait.

The Deal:

This is an illustrated book of cautionary tales for children, published in 1845. It's exactly what you'd expect. In its defense, the kids die in only two of the ten stories.

Drinking Buddy: Zum wohl!

I really wish I could have met this author. According to Wikipedia, Heinrich Hoffman was a psychiatrist, doctor and humanitarian. I like to imagine he wrote this thing as as kind of a parody, just something to he could laugh about with his friends.

Then again...

Testosterone Level: Not the Belt, Papa!

Well, these stories certainly don't sugarcoat anything. Besides Peter up there, we have the girl who plays with matches and burns to ashes in front of her weeping cats. There's the boy who won't stop sucking his thumbs, so a tailor comes and cuts them off (good thing he didn't engage in a different vice). Some naughty boys make fun of a black child, so Santa Claus dunks the offenders into a giant inkwell. A boy won't eat his soup so he starves to death.

It makes those Grimm Brothers seem like friggin' Caliou.

Talky Talk: Those Were the Days

These stories have been a source of amusement for German language students for decades. They're so over the top, you can't help but laugh.

I'm not sure I'd actually read this to a child, though, not even the Bad Fredericks and Fidgety Philips in our lives. There are more subtle ways to correct misbehavior (like a smack to the head).

Bonus Factor: Illustrations

Oh, the illustrations

It's the smoking shoes that really make the point.

What's up, Doc? Hot leaded death, that's what's up!

Mother warned me this would happen.

Ho, ho, ho! Someone's getting a big fat wad of political correctness in their stocking this year!

You're never too young to learn the consequences of a hunger strike.

Bromance Status: What's On TV?

Geez, and they say video games are rotting kids' minds.

Full disclosure: I received neither money nor whippings for writing this review.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.