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#1 Jamie123

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:05 AM

Most English churches have bells. Ours doesn't - unless you count the one small bell which is rung 10 minures before the service begins "calling the faithful to prayer". Our neighbouring church in Colliers Wood has a tower full of bells which is the envy of our lot, and the reason why a couple of years ago we acquired the bells of an old Methodist chapel in Birmingham which was being demiolished.

There are three of them; all fine bells, cast at the great bell foundry in Loughborough. I love to look at them, but sadly all they do is sit on wooden palettes waiting to be hung in the tower, because bell-hanging costs more money than the church has.

Some local businesses have donated money towards the "bell fund" but there is still not nearly enough. A couple of people have started bring-and-buy stalls in the church to raise more cash, one of which is a book stall run by a lady called A.

I am drawn to second-hand books like a bee to honey.

A: Have you been stealing my books?
Me: (looking up from a book) Nope.
A: Well someone has!
Me: Not me.
A: You're always looking at my books. Why do you never buy any?

Which usually guilts me into buying a few. Those unhung bells make me feel so sad!

Anyway, just before Christmas I gave my 8-year-old daughter K some money to buy herself some books from A's stall. One of the books she chose totally fascinated me: it's a new English edition of a very old German picture book called Struwwelpeter ("Shaggy Peter") by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, originally published in 1845. I'd never seen it before and so I've done some research on the web: it seems that the earliest English translation was by Mark Twain in 1891, though this is not the one K found. You can read the whole thing in English (again not Twain's translation) here:

Project Gutenberg eBook of Struwwelpeter, Merry Stories and Funny Pictures, by Heinrich Hoffman

The book contains several illustrated rhyming stories, most of which have a very obvious moral. This for example is what happens to children who play with matches:

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Thus the girl dies as a direct physical consequences of doing something dangerous (i.e. playing with fire). Other stories invoke a supernatural "bogeyman", the most disturbing of which concerns a little boy who sucks his thumb: his mother warns him that if he doesn't stop the "great tall tailor" will come with his scissors and cut off both his thumbs. Naturally the kid doesn't listen. As soon as his mom's back's turned he resumes his abominable habit and...

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...well, you get the idea. When I showed this to my wife J she was totally grossed out:

J: You let K buy that?
Me: Well I didn't know what it would be like!
J: Well you should always check before allowing her to have any book!

So it was all my fault. As usual.

Bogeymen like the "great tall taylor" no longer have much place in children's literature, but one of the other stories (which also features a bogeyman of sorts) has a very modern moral. It starts with a black youth out for a walk. His umbrella makes him look rather like another black hero of children's literature, namely "Little Black Sambo" who turns the cruel tigers into pancakes. (Nowadays he's more often called "Little Kim" as the word "sambo" has become a racial slur. I'll have a rant about him some other day.) Anyway, the black boy meets three white youths who start teasing him for being black. Not very nice. But then this character appears:

Posted Image

In the modern English text he is called "tall Agrippa" and (as you can see) he owns a giant-sized ink pot. He shouts angrily at the white boys to stop teasing the black one, but of course they refuse to listen. In a rage he grabs them by the hair and dunks them on by one into his ink pot, after which they become black themselves. Moral: It's not good to tease people who are different from you.

Now one question, and one observation:

The question: Who is "Tall Agrippa"? He only seems to be called Agrippa in this one translation. In the German he is called "Nikolas" and in Mark Twain's translation he is "Saint Nicholas", i.e. Santa Claus. This kind-of figures, as in the German tradition (so I'm told) "Santa" not only rewards good children but disciplines bad ones.

But if he is Saint Nicholas/Santa, why does this newer translation call him Agrippa? I've almost pulled a blank on this, except for a hint that there may be a connection with the German occultist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) - see Agrippa - Agrippa Von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius - Occultopedia, the Occult and Unexplained Encyclopedia.

The Observation: According to Wikipedia Hoffman was (at least by the standards of his day) quite a multiculturalist, who believed in equal rights for all German citizens whatever their ethnicity. This comes out very clearly in the story of the black boy. It would be interesting to know what Hitler thought about him nearly a century later!

Edited by Jamie123, 03 January 2013 - 06:04 AM.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

The rat from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

#2 Gramajane

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 04:44 AM

yes, pretty vital to check before you hand a kid a book these days. also check what they bring from the school library. My daughter in elementary school brought home a book that had the little girl go around kicking people because she was upset, and she got no consequences- I protested about the book to the school and they decided to discard it. -- Our kids claimed I could open a book at will, and get to the very worst part (language etc) in a few seconds. (they didn't know I prayed first ;0 but they also learned that I found and bought many GREAT books they would love to read, so they would often ask me to recommend for them. -- I recommend to ALL- George MacDonald of the 1800s who both JRR Toilken and CS Lewis claimed as their inspiration!

#3 Jamie123

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:09 AM

yes, pretty vital to check before you hand a kid a book these days.
also check what they bring from the school library.
My daughter in elementary school brought home a book that had the little girl go around kicking people because she was upset, and she got no consequences- I protested about the book to the school and they decided to discard it.
-- Our kids claimed I could open a book at will, and get to the very worst part (language etc) in a few seconds. (they didn't know I prayed first ;0
but they also learned that I found and bought many GREAT books they would love to read, so they would often ask me to recommend for them.
-- I recommend to ALL- George MacDonald of the 1800s who both JRR Toilken and CS Lewis claimed as their inspiration!


Haha - the story I always moan about (though I woundn't go so far as to want it banned) is Rumplestiltskin. It doesn't bother me one bit that the Rumplestiltskin is tricked out of his just reward. He was mean to demind the girl's first child in the first place! What does bother me is the nasty greedy king who demands the miller's daughter spin straw into gold (on pain of death!) and never gets his comeuppance!

The character of the king is mellowed somewhat in more recent versions: one book of my daughter's has him smiling and winkling to suggest that he isn't really serious. But in the Ladybird Book I had as a kid he was a real stinker - and nothing bad happend to him at all!

But then again, that's real life for you...

I love George MacDonald too - especially The Princess and Curdie. That's such a wonderful book!

Edited by Jamie123, 03 January 2013 - 05:16 AM.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

The rat from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

#4 Gramajane

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:22 AM

It was Hansel and Gretel that gave me nightmares as a child, younger than 3! My mother told me I came to her at that age demanding "Hadow Gradow!" till when she couldn't understand my pleading, I took her to to the book. I do remember that I stressed over trying to remember I must gather white stones, as bread crumbs would be eaten by the birds! --- one answer to much of what media our kids are exposed to is to be sure our communication is open with them, and we talk over what impact we might expect, with asking them if they have any concerns or questions!

#5 Gramajane

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:26 AM

I have been unable to choose just one favorite of MacDonalds. (I have collected every title of his I ever heard about and especially love the unedited versions. ) --- First I ever read was the edited version called The Shepherds Castle, and our teenagers (at the time, now all married with kids and still love his books!) super appreciated it too.! :) also- Sir Gibbie, and on and on!!!! He is sure WAY high up on my list to go find and talk to when I graduate from this earthly boarding school!!!!! :)

#6 classylady

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:23 AM

Your daughter's book sounds very similar to: "Max and Moritz (A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) (original: Max und Moritz - Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen) is a German language illustrated story in verse. This highly inventive, blackly humorous tale, told entirely in rhymed couplets, was written and illustrated by Wilhelm Busch and published in 1865." I picked up a German copy of Max und Moritz at the end of my mission in Germany. My children loved looking at the pictures, and I would translate the stories for them. Very dark humor, with the very naughty boys doing their pranks. They got their "just reward" by being ground up and the ducks eating them. My kids loved it! Ah, how oft we read or hear of Boys we almost stand in fear of! For example, take these stories Of two youths, named Max and Moritz, Who, instead of early turning Their young minds to useful learning, Often leered with horrid features At their lessons and their teachers. Look now at the empty head: he Is for mischief always ready. Teasing creatures - climbing fences, Stealing apples, pears, and quinces, Is, of course, a deal more pleasant, And far easier for the present, Than to sit in schools or churches, Fixed like roosters on their perches But O dear, O dear, O deary, When the end comes sad and dreary! 'Tis a dreadful thing to tell That on Max and Moritz fell! All they did this book rehearses, Both in pictures and in verses. [edit] First Trick: The Widow The boys tie several crusts of bread together with thread, and lay this trap in the chicken yard of Witwe Bolte, an old widow, causing all the chickens to become fatally entangled. This prank is remarkably similar to the eighth history of the classic German prankster tales of Till Eulenspiegel.[5] [edit]Second Trick: The Widow II As the widow cooks her chickens, the boys sneak onto her roof. When she leaves her kitchen momentarily, the boys steal the chickens using a fishing pole down the chimney. The widow hears her dog barking and hurries upstairs, finds the hearth empty and beats the dog. [edit]Third Trick: The Tailor The boys torment Schneider Böck, a well-liked tailor who has a fast stream flowing in front of his house. They saw through the planks of his wooden bridge, making a precarious gap, then taunt him by making goat noises, until he runs outside. The bridge breaks; the tailor is swept away and nearly drowns (but for two geese, which he grabs a hold of and which fly high to safety). Although Till removes the planks of the bridge instead of sawing them there are some similarities to Till Eulenspiegel (32nd History).[6] [edit]Fourth Trick: The Teacher While their devout teacher, Lehrer Lämpel, is busy at church, the boys invade his home and fill his favorite pipe with gunpowder. When he lights the pipe, the blast knocks him unconscious, blackens his skin and burns away all his hair. But: "Time that comes will quick repair; yet the pipe retains its share." [edit]Fifth Trick: The Uncle The boys collect bags full of May bugs, which they promptly deposit in their Uncle Fritz's bed. Uncle is nearly asleep when he feels the bugs walking on his nose. Horrified, he goes into a frenzy, killing them with a shoe. [edit]Sixth Trick: The Baker The boys invade a bakery which they believe is closed. Attempting to steal pretzels, they fall into a vat of dough. The baker returns, catches the breaded pair, and bakes them. But they survive, and escape by gnawing through their crusts. [edit]Final Trick: The Farmer Hiding out in the grain storage area of a farmer, Bauer Mecke, the boys slit some grain sacks. Carrying away one of the sacks, Bauer Mecke immediately notices the problem. He puts the boys in the sack instead, then takes it to the mill. The boys are ground to bits and devoured by the miller’s ducks. Later, no one expresses regret! (The mill really exists in Ebergötzen, Germany, and can be visited)

Edited by classylady, 03 January 2013 - 11:39 AM.


#7 Eowyn

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:28 AM

Those illustrations look really familiar. I think my high school German teacher must have had the same book.

"Therefore, let us beware of false prophets and false teachers, both men and women, who are self-appointed declarers of the doctrines of the Church and who seek to spread their false gospel and attract followers by sponsoring symposia, books, and journals whose contents challenge fundamental doctrines of the Church. Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce. Like Nehor and Korihor in the Book of Mormon, they rely on sophistry to deceive and entice others to their views. They “set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion” (2 Ne. 26:29). (Beware of False Prophets and Teachers, supra.)

Elder M Russell Ballard


#8 anatess

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:10 PM

My kids used to sing There Was An Old Woman who swallowed a Fly when they were barely kindergarten age. They loved that rhyme for some reason. My mother thought for sure I'm raising terrorrists.




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