An old book of German horror stories to frighten, erm, educate! kids. The rhymed stories are terrifying and illustrated, and I can still recall lots of the rhymes now. They include
- The titular Struwwelpeter, a boy who refuses to cut or comb his hair or cut his nails, and is shunned.
- The wicked Friedrich, who hurts people and animals, until he is bitten by a dog and has to stay in bed while the dog eats his food.
- Pauline is left alone at home, and even though the cats warn her, she plays with matches, and she burns to death.
- Three boys taunt a dark-skinned boy, and in turn get dunked in ink so that they look even darker.
- Konrad is warned not to suck his thumbs. When he does it while his mother is away, a tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors. (These left an impression on me!)
- Kaspar refuses to eat his soup for several days, and continues losing weight until he dies.
- Philipp won’t sit still, and in the end knocks over the entire dinner table. His name is still used for children who fidget a lot: Zappelphilipp.
- Hans has a habit of looking into the sky instead of where he’s going, so he falls into a river. He’s rescued, but his books float away, truly the worst fate.
- Robert goes outside during a storm, which catches his umbrella and he flies away.
Honestly, as a kid I didn’t think anything about them – they’re not really more gruesome than a grandmother getting eaten by a wolf, or a witch baked in her own oven. But then, they were only in use for entertainment, and never as education, so I got off lightly.