5 Classic Children's Books With Horrible Hidden Messages

#2. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Hates Welfare

Laura Numeroff/Felicia Bond

The Story:

It starts out innocently enough, with the always appreciated gesture of gifted baked goods. To an adorable mouse!

It ends with scathing commentary on welfare.

Laura Numeroff/Felicia Bond
"Like Stalin, who was also a socialist."

Why It's Fucked:

OK, let's back up. A child gives a mouse a cookie, so the mouse asks for some milk. The child obliges; the mouse asks for something else. And on and on. The child becomes ever more harried, exhausted, and drained by these interactions, until he starts slapping racist bumper stickers on the back of his Big Wheel and quoting Atlas Shrugged during snack time. He gives and he gives, but this leech-mouse just never stops taking. The cycle never breaks.

Laura Numeroff/Felicia Bond
"Like the USSR swept up Eastern European countries."

One lesson you can take from this book is: Respect your own rights as much as others. Another lesson is: Don't be feeding mice in your house, kid -- we don't want mice up in this piece. Yet a third lesson we can take from this story is: Charity is for the weak-willed, and poor people are greedy, lazy assholes who only want to steal your hard-earned cash and/or snickerdoodles.

#1. Fish Is Fish Is Pro-Segregation

Leo Lionni

The Story:

Fish Is Fish is the story of two best friends, a tadpole and a minnow. When the tadpole grows legs, both are shocked to find that they're not of the same species.

Leo Lionni
"I don't know, but I suddenly have the urge to hop haphazardly through traffic."

Presumably they learn to appreciate their differences and live happily ever after. The end.

Why It's Fucked:

You know what they say about presumptions, right? It makes a pres out of um ... ptions? Look, the presumption was wrong, is what we're trying to say here: They don't live happily ever after. The frog and the fish have a brief argument, then the frog decides to take his newly discovered respiratory system up to the surface, which of course the fish can never do.

The frog returns with joyous news: The world is absolutely filled with potential for air breathers like him! It's too bad the fish is stuck with stupid gills, but as the frog explains, different species belong in different worlds -- and incidentally, the frog's world happens to have a whole lot more opportunities for creatures like him. It's just the natural order of things, due to the fish's inferior DNA. Of course, he regales the fish with tales of all the neat things he's able to do since he's white ... er, upper class ... er, amphibious.

Leo Lionni
There's a reason that cow has a Hitler mustache.

The fish is understandably pretty miffed about all the privileges he's denied in this system of underwater oppression, so he tries to make a break for it. That ends about as well as you'd expect -- sorry, buddy, but this here lake has a glassy ceiling.

Leo Lionni
"Uh, how long does evolution take?"

After the fish aspires beyond his station and finds he can't handle it, the frog quite literally shoves the fish back into his place. The fish seems to come to terms with the realities of the society in which he lives and stops these silly dreams of seeing the world outside of his little pond.

Leo Lionni
The nightmares of the frog's sexual assault remain.

Sure, maybe the book is trying to say "Don't judge people, because maybe their differences will turn out to be awesome." Or maybe it's trying to say "Accept what you are and don't try to be anything else." Or maybe it's trying to say "The fish is an inherently inferior being that God put on this Earth to serve the noble frog race, and the two bloodlines should never mingle."

Or maybe it's trying to say "Look at the colors and the cute animals, kids." We have a habit of reading too much into things.

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Related Reading: If you think these are some fucked up messages to teach little kids, read The Berenstain Bears and the Bully. Once you've learned how violence can help solve your problems, check out how much racism was in The Secret Garden. Ready for the most inappropriate children's book covers of all time? Click here.

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