If you’re one of those parents who thinks that kids today are too sheltered, and that every story doesn’t merit a fairytale ending, we’ve got a recommendation for your nightstand.
For a healthy dose of the macabre, gothic, violent and downright traumatizing, look no further than the classic works of author/illustrator Edward Gorey. (It is still Halloween season, after all.)
Like Edgar Allan Poe and Tim Burton, Gorey is a storyteller who extols the dark arts, treating untimely death like something as routine as the wheels on the bus.
Don’t believe me… check out The Gashlycrumb Tinies, his picture book in which a poor child dies a novel (and rhyming) death on each page, from A-to-Z. Nothing will help your child master their ABC’s like reading: “E is for Ernest who choked on a peach” and “F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.” The book also features death by axe, gin, and even, ennui.
Now, I grew up with Gorey, and I didn’t turn into a sociopath. My favorite was a pop-up book called, The Dwindling Party. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that the party that’s dwindling is the family MacFizzet, whose members are devoured by monsters one-by-one, as they stroll through the gardens of Hickyacket Hall. By the final page, they’re all gone, except for young Neville, “who expects it was all for the best.”
So, if you are willing to risk the occasional night terror, go ahead and add an Edward Gorey book or two to your child’s library. Not only will he or she grow up with a unique literary sensibility, but also an early sense of fatalism and gallows’ humor. Now, how many Kindergartners can say that?