Cover of Der Struwwelpeter, a boy with incredibly long hair and fingernails

About the Book

Title: Der Struwwelpeter
Published: 1845

Cover Story: You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
Drinking Buddy:
Zum wohl!
MPAA Rating:
R (PG in Germany, child mutilation)
Talky Talk:
Those Were the Days
Bonus Factor:
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!

Two pints of beer cheersing

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…

MPAA Rating: R (PG in Germany, child mutilation)

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.

Illustration of a girl on fire, as her kittens look on in horror
Weeping kittens looking at the smoking shoes and pile of ashes that used to be a little girl

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

Drawing of a nearsighted rabbit shooting a hunter

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

Drawing of a man with scissors cutting off a boy's thumbs

Mother warned me this would happen.

A drawing of Santa Claus dunking boys in an inkwell

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

Drawing of a starving boy still refusing to eat his soup

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.

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

Brian 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.