Today’s Bad Child of History is taken from The Farmer’s Boy, illustrated by Randolph Caldecott.
Oh how we’ve missed the Bad Children of History! We recently cataloged a book that’s part of our Wetmore Collection, and contains dozens of delinquents and ill-mannered imps: La Civilité Puérile et Honnête, an etiquette book for children with illustrations by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel.
Boutet de Monvel’s illustrations aptly capture the sneakiness and hilarity of childhood, as well as the joy of hanging out at the seaside with miniature pizza peels.
(Etiquette hot tip: don’t bury your friends’ heads in the sand.)
The “what not to do” images are priceless.
This book’s children are naughty, and snotty.
They’re wiggly and squiggly.
They’re rude and crude.
We love the action shots.
We also love the recommendation about bread-licking in the “table manners” section.
Today’s bad children of history aren’t naughty, per se; they’re just very, very, very unkempt. They wear floppy bucket hats, they don’t brush their hair, and they even [whispering] ride around on pigs.
These children eat with their dirty hands, spilling food onto their smocks, and their table manners leave more than a little to be desired.
(Isn’t that framed pig portrait on the wall a nice touch?)
Luckily for these grubby children, Pelle Snygg soon arrives in his sparkling white clown suit to shame them with threats of cleanliness and a promotional flag. Yikes!
After laying eyes on these mucky moppets, Pelle Snygg realizes that the task is immense, and he needs to recruit help. He calls up his close friends, Intimidating Sponge Lady, Scary Anthropomorphized Pitcher Guy, Boar Who Makes Brushes From His Own Bristles, and someone who I think might be a bar of soap in a friar’s robe.
The yucky youth are NOT delighted to see their new extreme makeover team, although Pelle Snygg seems nothing short of jubilant (and immaculate).
Pelle Snygg begins the beautification process with a healthy dose of shampoo and smart, new summer hairdos for all.
For the transformation to be complete, Pelle Snygg implements lifestyle changes for the yucky children, with a vigorous lake swim and some laundry-washing lessons:
In a surprising turn of events, these children now seem to be fully under the sway of Intimidating Sponge Lady and her cohort. “I feel like a new person!,” they chime. “I thought it was impossible to love the skin I’m in. I can’t believe the difference! Thanks, Pelle Snygg!”
Today’s gallic ungovernables come from a 1930 edition of the classic Les Malheurs de Sophie, with color illustrations by Jacques Touchet.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Sophie is an adventurous little girl who lives in a castle in the French countryside. She spends her days wandering through flowery glades, capturing squirrels, hosting tea parties, bickering with her beloved and well-behaved cousin, getting underfoot in the kitchen, and generally participating in wholesome mischief.
Here you can see one of Sophie’s great passions: scaling furniture in order to put her hands into unsanctioned containers.
When she isn’t stealing bon bons, Sophie likes to join cousin Paul in fun and completely normal children’s activities such as catching flies in a paper box. Of course, being bad children of history, Sophie and Paul get in a fight over the paper box, resulting in a series of unfortunate events culminating in the release of a great swarm of flies and a single interloping bee.
Apian mishaps aside, Sophie and Paul are great companions. They go for walks, they fall off a cart, they have arts and crafts time. Here’s an illustration of their creative endeavors, right after some watercolor painting and an argument wherein Sophie threw water in Paul’s face:
Yes, hello, despite their teeny waistcoasts and extravagant domicile, Sophie and Paul are just like children everywhere: sometimes sweet, sometimes curious, often plain old naughty.
It’s true: we’ve discovered yet another version of Heinrich Hoffmann’s Der Struwwelpeter, this one in Polish, hiding in our Edith Wetmore Collection of Children’s Books.
Złota różdżka was published in Warsaw around 1933; it contains a translation of Hoffmann’s original text, with illustrations by Bohdan Bartłomiej Nowakowski, a prolific Polish illustrator and cartoonist.
Nowakowski’s children are quite impressively, gruesomely bad. Look at the determined scowl on this little stomper!
This book contains all your Struwwelpeter favorites, like the fast-withering Augustus Who Wouldn’t Eat Any Soup (below left) and the tragic Pauline Who Played With Matches and her oddly flame-resistant shoes (below right).
The last page of Złota różdżka features a highly seasonally-appropriate illustration of the respective wintery fates of good and bad children everywhere. May we suggest sharing it with the bad children in your life?
If you like this blog’s Bad Children of History, you’ll LOVE the Library’s new exhibit… of Bad Children of History!
It’s true: the exhibit cases in the Rhode Island Room on the first floor of the Library are currently featuring all manner of ill-behaved, 19th- and 20th-century children, including greatest hits from the blog alongside some never-before-seen mischief-makers.
These misbehaving moppets are only on display through September 23rd, so hurry on over to see them before they’re gone!
This week’s Bad Children of History come from a treasure trove of misbehavior: Gelett Burgess’s 1909 book Blue Goops and Red: A Manual of Polite Deportment for Children who would be Good, Showing How & How Not to Behave Everywhere. (This book is also a treasure trove of illustrations with a flippable half-page that changes the scene–I’m certain there’s a name for these, but I don’t know what it is.)
Each two-page spread of Burgess’s book has a rhyme about an occasion in which one could behave or misbehave, facing an illustration showing (blue) goops with poor deportment, and then, after one flips the half-page, (red) goops behaving properly. Here’s a topical example:
Oh, isn’t it a pity,
When valentines are pretty,
To send the horrid, comic ones to me?
But often in the city
Some children think they’re witty,
And so I get the kind I hate to see!
Two notes here: one, are the goops actually children? They look sort of like… gingerbread people, although their parents seem to be definitively human. Two, I think it behooves the narrator to consider why children send him or her insulting valentines, but I suppose that’s beside the point.
Here’s the half-page flipping feature I mentioned earlier. Look at those bad goops jeering over a so-called valentine of an old maid while their overly-indulgent parents look on! Wait… wait… look at those nice goops with their tidy envelopes and their relaxed human parents!
Blue Goops and Red also has some absolutely fantastic end-papers. Look at these! Goops galore!
The winter solstice has passed, Christmas is nearly upon us, and we’ve been enjoying some of the seasonal cultural artifacts found here in Special Collections. Read on for an assortment of favorites:
The illustration above, from Roger Duvoisin’s 1945 The Christmas Whale, shows a crowd of seals, polar bears, birds, and a lone human waving goodbye to Santa’s cetacean gift-delivery service. Look at those polar bears’ little tails!
For those of you more interested in, say, spending the winter months skiing while wearing a silky turban, we offer you this cover from a December 1939 issue of Vogue:
Our Updike History of Print collection contains an interesting 1951 reprint of Nicholas Breton’s The Twelve Moneths and Christmas Day, set in Riverside Caslon and illustrated with pseudo-Greek decorations.
(Nothing says Christmas like a flute, identical twin ducks, a turkey on a leash, figgy pudding in a fire pit, and an extremely small yet muscular man striding confidently through the scene.)
For those of you who can’t get enough historical Christmas images, I highly recommend checking out the American Antiquarian Society’s digital exhibit on chromolithographer Louis Prang, known as “the father of the Christmas card”. They have some beautiful Christmas- and winter-themed images featured on their Instagram, as well.
We’ve seen some bad children of history learn lessons through brute force (lighting on fire, sustaining injury from a porcupine, being tossed into a tree by a drunken bull), but today we’re going to see a bad child learning proper behavior in a gentler way– through The Force of Example.
Here’s the (anti-?)hero of today’s tale, a schoolboy named Charles.
The telling illustration above really lays the groundwork: we can see that Charles has a loving mother who wears a ruffly bonnet and guides him toward school with a firm yet gentle hand. We can see the rough floorboards and simple door indicating that these aren’t fancy folks, but they’re not so down and out that Charles would go to school in anything but clean trousers and a wee top hat with a floppy brim. We can see Charles uncertainly pointing at the open door, showing that he’s not entirely thrilled at the prospect of another day of lessons.
Charles begins the trek to school, but as he passes into the woods, he realizes that it’s nice outside– far nicer than it would be inside his classroom. (I realize this same thing whenever I have to spend another perfectly good beach day inside the library.)
Wait a minute! Charles can just stay in the woods, and not go to school at all!
Slumped forlornly on a stump, his sweet realization is suddenly overshadowed by the reality that playing outside by one’s self is kind of boring.
Other, less-bad children are on the way to school, so Charles needs to expand his search for a playmate. He approaches various creatures, including a bee (desperate much?), a dog that looks like a bear, a goldfinch, and a free-ranging horse. Here’s a sloppy montage of those interactions:
Mind you, and I know this is hard to believe– no one wants to play. The bee can’t remain idle because she has to pursue some honey, the dog can’t remain idle because he has to herd some sheep, the bird can’t remain idle because she has to build a soft nest, and the horse can’t remain idle because she has to plough a field (I know we’ve all heard that one before).
Poor Charles is despondent.
Here’s where Charles admirably guides himself to the correct, moral decision, after observing the gainfully-employed examples of various fauna. He wipes away a tear and proclaims, to no one in particular,
Why how foolish it is,
To sit here and cry!
I will hasten to school,
And my tears I will dry;
When I’m there, I’ll be steady,
And try to excel;
For if I take pains,
I may learn to read well;
Then I’ll be attentive,
My book I will mind;
For he who is busy
Is happy, I find.
Hey, thanks, busy animals! Now maybe you can give me a pep talk as I head into my office on this beautiful day.
Today’s Bad Child of History is, in my estimation, not bad so much as annoying. His name is Jack, and he comes from Charles Bennett’s 1863 book Little Breeches.
Unlike other bad children, who crash about with no regard for the mess they leave behind, or for the stress they cause to undeserving nurses and kind butchers, Jack is a bit of a hand-wringer.
Here one can see Jack in his perpetual state, namely: positively beside himself with terror. In true 19th-century style, he wanders about the countryside completely unsupervised, leading to a series of terrifying encounters with scary animals, after each of which he wails for his father.
A “genteel Wasp” inquires about the time (which would, truthfully, give me a fright, as well); an upright cat in a jacket with some sort of lumpy club asks “civilly” for directions; a Francophone gander wearing a Chemex as a hat says nothing at all; and yet each time, Jack shouts for assistance.
Why is he crying for his father? Well, “when anybody said anything to him, he was afraid lest they should hurt him; so he would call out ‘Father!’ as loud as he could, although his father might not be near at the time, and if he were would only be very angry with him for being so silly.”
As if this isn’t scary enough, Jack also encounters a spider who needs help finding a fly, an oversized frog in pants (alarming enough to cause Jack to fall into the pond), and a bull who is inexplicably wearing leather breeches, smoking a pipe, and enjoying a mug of beer.
Seeing Jack’s state of abject terror, the bull wisely offers him some of the beer (for what negates fear like a mug of ale that probably just had bull lips on it?). Of course, in response, Jack (you guessed it) cries “Father!”
If this is truly to be the story of a Bad Child of History, of course, something ill must befall Jack such that he learns his lesson.
“Very well,” said the Bull, looking after him. “I tell you what it is: if you come crying ‘Father’ to me any more, I think I know where you’ll go to.”
And the next morning the silly boy did meet the Bull again; again the Bull offered him some beer; the boy cried “Father!” and the Bull, who always kept his word, ran after him. Where do you think he went to?
Why, up into the withered tree, for that was where the old Bull tossed him, and there he is now for all I know.