children book

The 1845 German Children book

There is a German children book from 1845 about three boys teasing a dark-skinned boy. To teach them a lesson, Saint Nicolas dips the three boys in black ink, to make them even darker-skinned than the boy they’d teased.

Der Struwwelpeter (1845) (or Shockheaded Peter) is a German children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann. It comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an exaggerated way. The title of the first story provides the title of the whole book.

  1. “Struwwelpeter” describes a boy who does not groom himself properly and is consequently unpopular.
  2. In “Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich” (The Story of Bad Frederick), a violent boy terrorizes animals and people. Eventually he is bitten by a dog, who goes on to eat the boy’s sausage while he is bedridden.
  3. In “Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug” (The Dreadful Story of the Lighter), a girl plays with a lighter and burns to death.
  4. In “Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben” (The Story of the Black Boys), Saint Nicholas catches three boys teasing a dark-skinned boy. To teach them a lesson, he dips the three boys in black ink, to make them even darker-skinned than the boy they’d teased.
  5. “Die Geschichte von dem wilden Jäger” (The Story of the Wild Huntsman) is the only story not primarily focused on children. In it, a hare steals a hunter’s musket and eyeglasses and begins to hunt the hunter. In the ensuing chaos, the hare’s child is burned by hot coffee and the hunter falls into a well, presumably to his death.
  6. In “Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher” (The Story of the Thumb-Sucker), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.
  7. “Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar” (The Story of the Soup-Kaspar) begins as Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.
  8. In “Die Geschichte vom Zappel-Philipp” (The Story of the Fidgety Philip), a boy who won’t sit still at dinner accidentally knocks all of the food onto the floor, to his parents’ great displeasure.
  9. “Die Geschichte von Hans Guck-in-die-Luft” (The Story of Johnny Head-in-Air) concerns a boy who habitually fails to watch where he’s walking. One day he walks into a river; he is soon rescued, but his writing-book drifts away.
  10. In “Die Geschichte vom fliegenden Robert” (The Story of the Flying Robert), a boy goes outside during a storm. The wind catches his umbrella and sends him to places unknown, and presumably to his doom.

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