Login or Register

Sign in with Facebook

Children's books tend to teach lessons no more complicated than "be nice," "share," or "shitting is awesome." The problem comes when some authors try to get clever and end up writing books that leave their young readers more confused, uninformed, or straight-up traumatized than they were before. Then those kids grow up to become children's book writers, and the cycle continues. That's how we get innocent-looking books that hide baffling lessons like ...

5
Little Zizi -- "Your Parents Think You Have a Tiny Penis"

Lenain/Poulin/Cinco Puntos Press

Look, we're just gonna come out and say it: Little Zizi is about a kid who gets made fun of because of his embarrassingly small dick.

Lenain/Poulin/Cinco Puntos Press
From zero to blurred child penis in two paragraphs. Strap in, everybody.

From the official description at Amazon: "Is it true that in the littlest of packages come the greatest gifts?" (Pun definitely intended.) The protagonist is a grade school kid named Martin whose life turns into a living hell when a voyeuristic bully spies on him while he's changing. The bully exposes Martin's "little zizi" to the rest of the class and remarks on how useless and pathetic it is, as opposed to his weenus, which is apparently the Washington Monument with veins.

Finally, the bully and Martin engage in a pissing contest -- as in, a literal urinating competition, which Martin loses despite the intensity of his Rocky-style training montage.

Lenain/Poulin/Cinco Puntos Press

Lenain/Poulin/Cinco Puntos Press

Lenain/Poulin/Cinco Puntos Press
"DONG. DONG DONG DONG. DONG DONG DONG. DONG DONG DOOOONG ..."

Luckily, the girl they're competing for rejects the bully despite his powerful tool and chooses kind, dorky, micro-penised Martin. It's a sweet little message about how true beauty lies inside the heart, not inside the pants. Except ...

The Horrible Message:

Stop and think for a moment about who is purchasing this book, and whom they're purchasing it for. That's right -- imagine being the poor young boy who gets this book from mom and dad (who is presumably more endowed than you are). There's only one message to be gleaned here: "By now you realize your penis is an embarrassment. This should help you deal with it."

Lenain/Poulin/Cinco Puntos Press
"You're not fit for the Jeremy name, Ron Jr. Anyway, happy birthday."

That is, after all, why books like this exist -- when you wet your bed, your parents buy you Dry All Night. When you're afraid of the dark, they give you C Is for Coward or something. So if you get Little Zizi, it sure as hell won't be because of the cool art. Why couldn't the authors tell this story through, say, a bird with a small pecker or an elephant with an inadequate trunk? Anything to make it less embarrassing for when friends come to your house and see this thing on your shelf.

And then there's stuff like this:

Lenain/Poulin/Cinco Puntos Press
"Triple your potency and make her delight," the man with the strange pills said. "Rolex."

First of all, Martin seems a little too intimate with the details of sexual reproduction for being 7 at most, which probably means the family computer needs better porn filters. And secondly, while Martin eventually proves the "small penises can't pee very far" part wrong, to our knowledge there aren't any scenes where he successfully impregnates a girl with dectuplets. Our point being, page after page of "HAHA LOOK AT THAT WORTHLESS THING" could easily convince a kid that his equipment really is good for nothing.

What's next, a book about how girls should be ashamed of their small boobs?

4
My Beautiful Mommy -- "Your Body Will Never Be Perfect Enough"

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books

My Beautiful Mommy answers the question: "What would happen if a plastic surgeon wrote a children's book?" Yep, it's written by Dr. Michael Salzhauer, also notable for producing a music video titled "Jewcan Sam" (a pun on the cereal mascot), which contains the chorus "I would love you till forever / if you got your nose circumcised." A boon to the medical profession, clearly, and now to the world of literature.

The aim of this book is helping your 4- to 7-year-old deal with the life-changing news of their mom getting cosmetic surgery.

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books
"Why don't you just buy new jeans, mom?"
"Don't ruin this for me, you little bitch."

The story follows the different parts of the process: from the initial consultation, where mommy meets up with the doctor to talk about her ugly nose:

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books
Very nice of them to employ a mentally challenged surgeon.

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books
"This will be the horrifying 'before' photo; everyone try not to vomit."

To the child's confusion about the operation, which leads her to ask if mommy's new nose is going to light up like a Christmas light:

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books
This part is accurate: kids are morons.

All the way to the point where mommy comes home swaddled in bandages like a freshly dug Egyptian mummy. And, finally, a brand-new Mommy is unveiled, along with her new face, new stomach, and new boobs, much to the adoration of her daughter.

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books
"The mutant wings cost extra, but dammit, I'm worth it."

The Horrible Message:

While this book might come in handy for parents who are actually getting cosmetic surgery and can't be arsed to explain it to their kids, we shudder for the mental well-being of any little girl who picks it off the shelf just because the cover is pink. Look at the before and after pictures of the girl's mom:

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books
Which also doubles as the book's "spot the difference" activity.

Yeah, that's a fashion model on both ends. When a child's mom looks like an NBA cheerleader but claims she hates her sensual body and needs to have it fixed, that's a recipe for that kid to have a lifetime of body-image issues. The way the book is told ("Mommy is already perfect, but she could be even perfecter") implicitly sets up endless sequels where she ends up looking like Michael Jackson with Anna Nicole Smith's boobs. Also, we can't help feeling like this lady's motivations to get operated on aren't the healthiest:

Salzhauer/Guiza/Big Tent Books
"That's sweet, honey, but no. The American continent, at most."

Apparently, she wants to be in beauty pageants and win over men who look suspiciously like Dr. Michael, who just happens to resemble the book's author drawn in the style of Batman: The Animated Series. Huh.

In short, feel free to buy this book for your kid, but only if you want to ensure they ask for tit implants on their 13th birthday.

Continue Reading Below

3
Tico and the Golden Wings -- "Conformity Is Awesome"

Leo Lionni/Dragonfly Books

On the surface, Tico and the Golden Wings is your average "be yourself" book. Tico is a cute little birdie who was born without wings, presumably because his mom drank heavily during incubation.

Leo Lionni/Dragonfly Books
"I asked my parents about it once, but they just puked in my mouth and flew away forever."

Tico wishes for beautiful golden wings, to overcompensate. One day, a magical bird ex machina appears and gives him exactly that.

Leo Lionni/Dragonfly Books

Leo Lionni/Dragonfly Books
The book's first lesson: always take shiny things from strangers.

Unfortunately, Tico still isn't happy with his pimp new wings. His friends think he looks down on them and their boring black feathers, so Tico ends up alone and miserable. He gives his golden wings away to a group of broke villagers, and ... it turns out he has a pair of regular black wings underneath. Yes, you read that right: the thing he was looking for this whole time was in him all along. Holy shit. We need to sit down for a moment.

The Horrible Message:

If you're wondering at what point Tico's friends realize they're awful, the answer is: they don't. They shun and abandon poor Tico because of his golden wings and welcome him back only after he becomes just like them. Their actual words:

Leo Lionni/Dragonfly Books
"Wait, is that WHITE on your chest? Shun! Shun! Unnnnnncleeeeeean."

So, yeah, the message here isn't "be yourself" -- it's "be like everyone else." And if you ever try to improve as a person? Then everyone will hate you.

Remember, Tico's quest for wings isn't just a vanity project. He doesn't have plain old wings at the start -- he has no wings. Sure, he can sing and poop like the other birds, but the fact that he can't get high up in the sky and poop on an actual head makes him feel woefully incomplete. Then he finally finds a way to get wings ... and instead of being happy for him, his friends erase him from their lives. We'd like to think that if we had a buddy without legs and one day Bill Gates bought him robot prosthetics, we'd at least call him to say congratulations before blocking him on Facebook out of jealousy.

Leo Lionni/Dragonfly Books
"Tico's no fun since we can't make fun of him. Let's befriend that bird with the tiny pecker."

Tico's jackass friends don't even bother to ask what he was up to during his exile, like we're pretty sure friends are wont to do. He spent that time saving three families from starvation by selflessly giving up his magical golden wings, but the other birds don't give a shit about that -- they just commend him for finally being like them, and thus ends Aesop's Fable for the cubicle-farm crowd. So what have we learned? That you should never try to be your own person and birds are assholes.

2
Little Monkey's Big Peeing Circus -- "Girls Can Do Everything Boys Can Do (Biologically)"

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou

Little Monkey's Big Peeing Circus is yet another children's book about the wonders of having a penis. The protagonist is a monkey so good at peeing that he opens a circus to, per Amazon's description, "show off his talents."

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou
"Hey, man, that's kind of gro- GRHGGHGHGBLUHGHGB!"

Mimi, a girl monkey, fancies a part in the pissing show, because who wouldn't? She asks Little Monkey if she can get in on this sweet (salty?) action, but the sexist pig turns her down. There's a little problem: her peepee is missing.

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou
"Wait, no, it's back there. Dude, you're a beast."

Horrified, Little Monkey begins searching high and low for Mimi's peepee, until she finally admits she never had one.

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou
Is this when a magic bird appears and gives Mimi a golden dong?

Little Monkey replies that if Mimi doesn't have a peepee, then she can't pee -- that's, like, basic biology. However, Mimi proves she can do it as well as any boy by doing a handstand and directing a strong stream of urine right into the air. Little Monkey is so impressed by Mimi's dexterity that he invites her to join his act, and they piss happily ever after.

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou
At least until they discover the amazing world of farts.

So there you have it: a nice little story about how girls can do anything boys can do. Literally anything.

The Horrible Message:

Uh, actually, we just checked with several medical specialists, and it turns out that's not entirely accurate. Apparently, there's a thing called "human anatomy" that makes it physically impossible for women to pee like men, irrespective of how much they might want to. "But Cracked, you'd have to be like 5 not to know that!" Yeah, hypothetical reader, and what age group do you think this book's yellow stream of knowledge is squarely aimed at?

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou
These kids might want to get checked for diabetes, but that's another issue.

The book's message of equality is great and all, but maybe depicting that equality through biological functions (i.e., the one thing where genders are definitely not identical) wasn't the best decision. On top of that, we feel like the book might be overstating how useful the talent of peeing super hard in front of other people is in this modern world.

Veldkamp/Boer/Harry N. Abrams via MLou
Unless every single one of these animals is a fetishist.

Not to mention that, for a book specifically designed to provide "a lesson in girl parts and boy parts," at no point do they bother to explain to the kids where, exactly, Mimi's pee is coming from. Presumably that's cleared up in the sequel, where Little Monkey gets his first period, out of sheer force of will.

Continue Reading Below

1
The Lonely Doll -- Too Many Fucked-Up Lessons to Count

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers

The Lonely Doll is a 1957 book recommended for ages 4 to 8 that starts with Edith, a little doll girl, finding two strange bears standing on her doorstep and immediately inviting them to move in with her.

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
"Oh, God heard my prayer!"
"God. Yes."

To be fair, Edith lives alone in a huge mansion (there isn't an explanation for this that isn't creepy) and is feeling pretty lonely before Mr. Bear and Little Bear show up, so she can't really be faulted for letting them in. Presumably to reassure her that they're not serial killers, Little Bear whispers in her ear: "Just wait and see what fun we'll have!"

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
That's a "kindly pat" like a colonoscopy is a gentle brush on your tushy.

Edith and the bears get up to all sorts of hijinks, and from that day on, this lonely doll is never lonely again. The end!

The Horrible Message:

... the end of her innocence, that is, because that's when the truly fucked-up stuff begins.

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
"Hi, yes, I need some baby-sized clothes and enough rope to tie a baby to a tree. Hello? Hello?"

The book was written by a former fashion model and photographer called Dare Wright, who had a ... "complicated" relationship with her mother. From an early age, Wright's mom dressed her up like a doll made of human flesh and they slept in the same bed even as adults. Some people work out these issues through therapy; others write children's books in which a bear that a doll met moments ago starts bossing her around like a furry dominatrix.

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
"Or not naughty enough. Both are forbidden in this house."

At one point, Edith and Little Bear decide to play dress-up and write "Mr. Bear is just a silly old thing" in lipstick on the mirror. Then they see Mr. Bear standing right behind them with the rapiest eyes humanly possible. On a toy bear.

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
They actually had those eyes imported directly from France.

Mr. Bear says, "I may be silly, but I know when a naughty little girl deserves a spanking," so he starts doing that ...

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
Good call editing out all the "Yes, my master" lines.

... and, apparently, she likes it.

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
"No, Little Bear, I have something else in mind for you. Fetch the car battery."

Edith ends up begging Mr. Bear for forgiveness because she's worried that he'll leave and she'll be lonely again. On the contrary: after the spanking, Mr. Bear promises to be with Edith forever. Forever. Forever.

Dare Wright/HMH Books for Young Readers
Note: They already knew what a Nazi salute looked like back in 1957.

The creepiest part? He's telling the truth. There are nine more books of this shit, with ominous titles like Edith and Midnight and The Lonely Doll Learns a Lesson. Unfortunately, the "therapy via book-writing" idea didn't work out so well for Wright, since she became an alcoholic and died in miserable conditions. So, maybe stick with Cat in the Hat for your nephew's next birthday, is what we're saying.


Jason Iannone is a Columnist, freelance editor, interviewer, and layoutter. He embraces his inner child over on Facebook and Twitter.

For more insane children's products, check out 10 Great Books For (Traumatizing) Children and 6 Kids Movies Clearly Made by People Who Hate Children.

To turn on reply notifications, click here

790 Comments

Load Comments