6 Kids Books With Not-Even-Hidden F**ked Up Messages
In the Olde Country, children's literature was all about rape, mutilation, and cannibalism, to let the little buggers know that there were worse things in the world than having to birth sheep and eat cold stew for dinner. But modern kids' stories focus more on instilling positive social values, like sharing and acceptance. However, when you look closely at some examples of modern children's literature, you'll discover that they're exactly as insane and emotionally damaging as any haunted German fairy tale. The only difference is that they're slightly more subtle about it.
Seriously, tell us we're not overthinking these.
The Magic School Bus Thinks Informed Consent Is A Waste Of Time
The Magic School Bus is a series of books about a teacher named Ms. Frizzle using a magic school bus to abduct her class and take them on psychedelic journeys of discovery. She does this through the cunning use of magic (obviously) and abusing her students' trust.
He knows what's coming.
For example, in the book The Magic School Bus Inside The Human Body, Ms. Frizzle shrinks her class and transports them inside the body of their classmate Arnold. The thing is, though, she never tells the boy about it. Instead, she parks the miniaturized bus full of children on a chip that Arnold is eating, and then rams it inside him.
Even the bird knows that this is really fucked up.
Of course, nothing bad happens to Arnold, but that doesn't really change the fact that sneaking into a child's digestive system without their knowledge is creepy as all get out. Even creepier, this wasn't the only time Frizzle turned her students into guinea pigs without telling them what was happening. She did the same thing to Keesha ...
... and Wanda ...
The only way this could be more shady is she wrote "Free Candy" on the side of the bus.
The worst part of it all is that Ms. Frizzle is an authority figure with complete access to these kids for up to eight hours a day. And while she does teach them a lot about the world, she's also hammering into her class' heads that consent isn't all that important as long as you're learning something, which is exactly how real-life mad scientists behave.
Related: Ms. Frizzle's 'New' Magic School Bus Redesign Sparks Social Media Ire, But There's a Key Detail Missing
Curious George Teaches Children How To Get Kidnapped
There are many ways for a person to make friends, and many wonderful books that teach them to children. Curious George is not one of them. The original book begins with the Man in the Yellow Hat going to Africa, spotting George sitting in a tree, and sticking him in a sack so he can take him to a zoo in the big city. Given George's near-human intelligence, this is technically kidnapping.
There's a reason the "Man in the Yellow Hat" never gives us his real name.
As we pointed out before, George is actually an ape, not a monkey, and when apes get pissed off, the thing they mostly start to get curious about is how humans would look without faces. But George goes along with his kidnapping because he's curious as to what will happen, as his name betrays.
When George arrives in his new home, the first thing the Man in the Yellow Hat does is overfeed him and let him smoke a pipe until he feels "very tired," which is starting to sound more and more like testimony from a child abduction case than the plot of a picture book.
"Just go with it, kid. There's a balloon in it for you later!"
The next day, George plays with a telephone and mistakenly calls the fire department (whose number is apparently 1234567). When they burst into his home and see there's no fire, they arrest little George. And let that be lesson to you, kids: If you ever find yourself trapped in the home of an oddly-costumed man who tries to subdue you with drugs and you call the police, you will go to jail.
Why does this fire department have a jail cell, again?
The Ugly Duckling Insists That A Person's Worth Depends On How Attractive They Are
You know the story of the Ugly Duckling. A busted-ass duckling gets picked on for looking mottled and weird, but then grows up to be a swan. Now, this is ostensibly meant to teach children not to bully people for their physical appearance, but what it really boils down to is "Be careful who you call ugly in middle school, because they might grow up to be attractive."
It doesn't teach kids that we should accept everyone just as they are; it's warning them not to call someone ugly, because they might eventually become hot. The underlying rule -- that only the beautiful deserve love and respect -- still comes through loud and clear, because let's face it, all of society secretly depends on it. Bizarrely, it gets even more depressing once you read the original story.
Oh, you thought this was about overcoming prejudices? This is Disney.
See, the ugly duckling isn't merely teased for its looks. It gets "bitten and pushed and made fun of" by every animal it encounters, including its brothers and sisters, who wish their sibling was eaten by a cat. Meanwhile, his mother "wished he had never been born," presumably very loudly over dinner after several glasses of wine. This is one of the most fucked up things you can say to a person, let alone a child.
Next to "Santa killed himself because of you."
Not being able to cope with the abuse, the ugly duckling eventually decides to commit suicide by approaching a bunch of swans, who it seems are the national guard / biker gang of the waterfowl world: "I will fly to those royal birds," he exclaimed, "and they will kill me, because I am so ugly, and dare to approach them ... better be killed by them than pecked by the ducks, beaten by the hens. This bit is usually omitted in most adaptations.
But after approaching the swans while yelling "Kill me," the duckling is shocked when no immediate death follows. Instead, the swans recognize a fellow swan in the rejected little bird and let him hang out with them. The "duckling" finally finds its people and gets over his depression (because it's THAT easy), thus suggesting that all his abuse would have been justified if he had been just a weird-looking duck.
Although we can't blame everyone's reaction to the ugly duckling. Look at what baby swans look like:
Look at these piles of garbage.
The Cat In The Hat Says It's Fine To Force Your Will On Others
The Cat In The Hat starts out with a grown and nearly naked anthropomorphic cat man walking uninvited into the house of two unattended children and immediately throwing himself a private party.
"You parents are gone, bet they're having a blast,
I've brought some Mike's Hard, let's get fucking smashed."
This pretty much sets the tone for the iffy moral of the story. See, the Cat does not give a shit about what anyone wants. He doesn't ask what the kids want to do, or even if they want to play with him. He up and declares that the house, which does not belong to him, is now their playground, and that he is the Emperor of Fun. And when the kids' fish refuses to participate in his home invasion, he fucking assaults it.
"Watch how you speak to me, or I'll brain you with this stick, you see?"
Later, the Cat invites two strangers who are clearly his meth pals into the house, and they immediately wreck the place. It's up to the kids to deal with this problem, because again, the Cat doesn't care -- he's just squatting there for the evening.
Meth: Turns your hair blue and stunts your growth.
Sure, the Cat does clean up the mess he's made in the end, but that's not the point, is it? If one of your friends kicked in the door to your apartment, had sex on your bed, but then cleaned the sheets for you, you'd still be angry, right? Imagine if you didn't even know that person, and that's what the kids in The Cat In The Hat are dealing with.
Oh yeah. This is definitely a sex thing for him.
Cutting loose with a bit of wild mayhem is fine every once in a while, but everyone involved has to be on board, or else you're forcing them into an uncomfortable and destructive situation. The Cat isn't the avatar of fun -- he's that cousin that shows up once every other year to crash at your house unannounced with a duffel bag full of heroin and some weird friends.
Winnie-The-Pooh Is A Serial Killer Training Manual
Winnie-The-Pooh is the classic tale of Christopher Robin, a child who spends his days in the Hundred Acre Wood with his stuffed animal friends, because he cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. It was basically Toy Story, if Andy interacted with Woody and Buzz and went along on their adventures. Or rather, it's Toy Story if Sid, the burgeoning serial killer who mutilates Buzz and Woody, went along on their adventures. Because if you read the Winnie-The-Pooh books instead of only watching the Disney adaptations, it becomes clear that Christopher Robin is a damn sociopath.
The very first chapter of Winnie-The-Pooh shows Christopher Robin dragging Pooh down the stairs and deliberately bashing his head against every single step. We're told that this is the only way Pooh knows how to go down stairs, because he is literally unable to think of any alternative, thanks to all the skull-bashing.
His name was Edward, but he forgot by the bottom.
Later on in the story, Pooh gets his head stuck in a jar of honey, which is a familiar scene for fans. However, rather than turning into a charming sequence of Pooh's friends gathering around trying to get him unstuck, this becomes a protracted carnival of misery, as the sentient stuffed animal struggles to release himself while Christopher Robin laughs his ass off:
Suddenly Christopher Robin began to laugh ... and he laughed ... and he laughed ... and he laughed.
Yeah, about the third "laughed," there is the point where you realize you're dealing with a diseased brain. The little British goblin makes no attempt to help, so Pooh is forced to smash his already-abused skull against a root until the jar finally breaks.
But the most chilling thing Christopher Robin does occurs in the second chapter, when Pooh gets wedged in Rabbit's hole (Pooh really can't be trusted to take care of himself, possibly because of all the head injuries). Christopher Robin inexplicably decides that the best way to free Pooh is to starve him. For a week. With all the warmth of a buzzard, Christopher Robin sits down in front of Pooh and reads to him while denying him food for days, until Pooh becomes emaciated enough to slide free of his prison. Because, you know, dirt holes can't possibly be dug out or anything.
He only brought the book to mask his erection.
Meanwhile, Rabbit had to spend days with Pooh's whistling asshole mounted in his kitchen. Because Christopher Robin treats his animal friends (who, in the story, are alive and have thoughts and feelings) like meaningless toys, the lesson here seems to be "Friends only exist for your amusement." Hey, speaking of which ...
The Giving Tree Glorifies An Abusive Relationship
Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree is the story of a little boy who grows up with a sentient tree and keeps taking things from it, like its leaves, branches, car, etc. It's essentially a tale about unconditional love, because no matter what the boy does or at what costs his demands come, the tree can't refuse him. It doesn't matter whether you see the tree as an allegory for friendship, parenthood, or God, because the moral remains the same: Sometimes we love someone so much that we are willing to do anything for them.
Even let them give us tramp stamps.
Except, it really does seem like love is supposed to be a two-way street. If the tree is supposed to symbolize a parent, it's a terrible message for the kid. ("Your parents exist only to serve you, then die!") If it's supposed to symbolize any other kind of relationship, it's a terrible message for a future adult. ("Eventually, something will come along that bleeds you dry, and that's just how it is!") Without reciprocation, "love" is the perfect recipe for abuse, and The Giving Tree is clearly an example of abuse, because the boy in the story does not give one hammered shit about the tree.
"What do you think I am, a MONEY tree? HAHA ... ha ... *sniff*
Oh god, love me! *sob*"
The two spend a lot of time together when the boy is young, but as soon as he starts getting interested in girls, he ditches the tree and fucks right off, only appearing later to ask for money. Because trees do not carry cash, the tree gives him apples to sell. More years pass with the boy nowhere to be seen. Then, he reappears asking for branches to build a house, presumably after taking a massive wash on the apple market.
You're being an enabler, tree!
Finally, all that's left of the tree is its trunk, on which the boy, now an old man, comes waddling up to park his flabby ass in some shade. The book ends by saying that the tree was happy, and we're supposed to feel good about the fact that the little boy spent his entire life depleting the tree and never doing anything for it in return.
We suppose it's supposed to be about the joy of selflessness or something, but it really does seem like insisting that the tree was happy is like insisting that an 18th-Century woman trapped in a brutal arranged marriage was happy -- they didn't have any other choice, so they forced themselves to smile through their hopeless situation and wait for the sweet release of death. The Giving Tree is the picture book version of that.
For more things that were made for children that definitely should not have been made for children, check out 6 Insanely Dark Online Games For Young Children and 5 Insane Children's Books That Will Ruin Your Child.
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