Friday, January 17, 2014

The Worst Children's Book Ever

So, recently, I saw an article on about the worst children's books ever. To be sure, these are all terrible books, ranging from antisemitic to incoherent.  But all of them pale compared to this doozy by Thomas Matthiesen.  It is still available on, this proving that existing child abuse laws are inadequate to shield the world's youth from this horror.  And, by horror, I'm not just talking about showing kids terrible things like death or pain. We're talking full-on, gaze-into-the-void, life-is-meaningless existential horror one doesn't normally encounter until one reads Nietzsche  in a philosophy survey in college.

Oh, you think I'm exaggerating?  Take a look for yourself...

As always, click to enlarge. But I must warn you, you will suffer an immediate Sanity Check at -20 to your die roll if you do.

It begins innocuously enough. What could be threatening about an alphabet book for kids. "A is for Apple", right?  Standard stuff.  The cover also informs us that the book is in color, because when it was published in 1966, people used to throw any old monochrome crap at their kids and expect them to learn to read.

This book was a gift from my parents to me shortly after my second birthday. I should take a second to point out, though I was doubtlessly scarred by the contents, I hold my Mom and Dad in no way responsible for the horrors within.  How were they to know?

You will note that my two-year-old self took pains to write a warning to any future readers of the book. If you take time to decipher the scribble, you will note that it spells out: "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CLOSE THIS BOOK AND WALK AWAY IF YOU VALUE ANYTHING THAT IS HOLY!!!" 

So, if you read this, you're thinking "Hey, Rabuck, what's the big deal? Color photo of a clock. Clear association with the letter C.  Short explanatory text defining the concept of 'clock'.  So what?"

Oh, my friend, you are just at the lip of the rabbit hole... 

"J is for Jar.. Jars hold lots of different things--jam and flour, sugar and cereal. Why is there a marble in this one?'

Why....?  I DON'T FREAKING KNOW! To represent the ultimate futility of existence? Because bears stole all of the others? Because you're messing with me? FOR GOD'S SAKE, I'M ONLY TWO!!!

I was clearly angry when I got the the "P is for Paint" page. You can see some the "Q for Quilt" below.  Perhaps the question "How do you suppose it works?" made me angry I was not being asked age-appropriate questions.

OK, now we've gone from bizarre to creepy.  "Has anyone ever looked in your house and seen you?"  Screw you, book.  Why don't you just tell me that my toys come alive at night and try to kill me?  Seriously, this dude must have hated children...

...I mean really hated kids.  "No matter how hard you hit a xylophone, it will never cry."  Unlike you, you little brat! Stop whining about the hollowness you feel inside and finish your goddam alphabet!

"Yarn starts out as long strings, but when it is made into a sweater, it ends up as little knots. Don't you think that's strange?"

Book, you've taken me to so many places to which that no two-year-old should ever have to go. I've been to strange and back, book, and nothing you can throw at me will ever seem unusual again. Now let's get to "Z is for Zipper" and I'll go sit quietly in the corner for ten years, curled up in the fetal position.  

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