[Monday Reading] A Kids’ Guide to Anarchy … Then Struwwelpeter

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

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So I thought long and hard about what to pair with the first book I am sharing here. Then with a little tongue in cheek I realized.. hmm.. this would pair well with the world-renowned mischievous boy of them all – the infamous Struwwelpeter. Makes sense. Here’s a celebration of the rebels, the rule-breakers and yes… Shock-headed Peter.


img_7137A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy

By: John & Jana
Published by: Manic D Press, 2012 ISBN: 1933149256 (ISBN13: 9781933149257)
Bought copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

To say that this book is perfect for our theme would be an understatement, because this is exactly what we have in mind when we were thinking about the mischievous, the artists, the rebels in literature.

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The curious thing about this book is that it was not ever explicitly mentioned whether this child here – this anarchy-loving creature with the blue hair -is a boy or a girl. And it totally works, because it is a non-issue.

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So each full-page spread is devoted to a simple message that essentially encourages the child to become an independent thinker and to trust one’s own judgment. A few of the notes may work for some, but others may be an acquired taste, really, depending on what kind of parent or teacher you are.

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I am only sharing a few here that stood out for me, because at its core is the need to educate one’s self, to pursue one’s line of thinking, to speak one’s mind, to “listen to the tiniest voice,” and to ostensibly engage in discussions about one’s thoughts and ideas. Of course there are a few that are just there for the sheer anarchy of it (Eat cake! For Dinner!), but always with the tongue-in-cheek, playful vibe filled with gleeful mischief.

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A wondrous, fun read for those with a more progressive spirit who do not go so much for the moral-lesson, didactic type of reading.

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Written and Illustrated byDr. Heinrich Hoffman
Published by: George Routledge and Sons Limited (first published 1845) ISBN: 0486284697 (ISBN13: 9780486284699)
Bought a German copy of the book. This edition borrowed from digital library of NLB. Book photos taken by me.

More than the brief little ditties found in this short anthology of cautionary tales for children is the fascinating story of how this book actually came about in the first place. Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, sometime in the late 1800s, wanted to buy his three-year-old son a book for a Christmas present, but was thoroughly dismayed by all the morally-laced stories that he described as “dry and pedagogic.” So he came up with a brilliant solution! He would write the stories himself!

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Hence, the child learns about Harriet who played with matches and just look where she ended up, or little Conrad who loves sucking his thumb, see what happened to him:

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Rather than simply share my thoughts with you about this book (which I absolutely adored), here is a fragment of an interview that I conducted with the inimitable children’s lit scholar, Leonard Marcus, for my edited book:

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If you want to read more of our conversation about books, you have to grab yourself a copy of Beyond Folktales, Legends, and Myths.

6 Comments on [Monday Reading] A Kids’ Guide to Anarchy … Then Struwwelpeter

  1. I’ll have to think about this one when our 6th grade does folk and fairy tales. I’m sure they would love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Anarchy book looks very interesting. On the one hand, good advice. On the other… hmmm…. may need to have conversations about what it looks like with young readers!

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  3. I love A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy. I think there is much to think about in it and it would certainly open up all kinds of conversations. Struwwelpeter sounds like you need a kid who appreciates black humour! Have you read The Gashlycrumb Tinies?

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  4. A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy intrigues me, Myra – I’ll have to find a copy.

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  5. I “think” I’ve seen the anarchy book, Myra, & the other cautionary tale one would be hilarious for older children. It reminds me of some of the Shel Silverstein poems. When I was growing up, there is one story from the Wizard of Oz books that I remember about a girl who talked so much that her mother sewed her lips shut! I remember it scaring me, & think I didn’t talk quite so much after, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking? Thanks for all!

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  6. Fascinating! I remember first seeing the finger-cutting picture in high school when some friends were translating the stories for their German class. Interesting to think about how one person’s sense of humor becomes another’s morality tale!

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