The Gashlycrumb Tinies or, After the Outing by Edward Gorey, 1963
Published by Bloomsbury
First line: “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.”
Book Rx: For darkly humorous days.
I’ve slowly been building up a collection of children’s books. I buy them for my future kids — picture books, short stories, Harry Potter, poetry from Shel Silverstein. Sometimes I wonder, will they add ones of their own choice? Maybe they’ll all be reading out of tablets and their “shelves” will look completely different 10, 20 years from now? Will they even like the books I’ve already bought for them?
If my kids are anything like me though, I’m sure they’ll like this one. :)
The Gashlycrumb Tinies is essentially a book on your ABCs, except with a twist. To my mind, it’s classic gothic, gory Gorey. (Fact: In my head, I read Gorey in my best, fake British narrator voice. I don’t know why, his writing just seems to call for it.)
In the book, children with names A to Z die in various interesting and non-mundane ways. There are one-liner gems, like “T is for Titus who flew into bits” and “N is for Neville who died of ennui”, next to dainty black and white illustrations of the doomed children in question.
Is the book dangerous reading for kids? I don’t think so. Can’t exactly say “Kids, don’t try this at home!” either, because most of the children in the book don’t exactly try to do anything harmful. How do you warn against choking on peaches, wasting away, or an assault by bears?
You can watch an online preview of the book here.