Cautionary Tales for Children Info

Download or Read Online latest releases, and browse our best picks for the best graphic and comics novels of the year. Find Answers and Reviews on Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc,Edward Gorey Read&Download Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc,Edward Gorey Online Author:Hilaire Belloc,Edward Gorey Formats:Hardcover,Kindle,Audible Audiobook,Paperback Publication Date:Dec 1, 2002 Ratings: 4.05 of 5391


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Reviews for Cautionary Tales for Children:

4

Feb 21, 2009

Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Snuggled in a cuddly, loving lap.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Pictures for full multi-sensory immersion.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Two voices: sometimes taking turns, sometimes in unison.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
This is the stuff of formative childhood memories.

My father regularly read these poems to me with melodramatic intonation when I was a child. He read (and sung) other things, but these were always the favourites. To this day, I know many of them by heart and I Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Snuggled in a cuddly, loving lap.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Pictures for full multi-sensory immersion.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
Two voices: sometimes taking turns, sometimes in unison.
Rhyme, rhythm, repetition.
This is the stuff of formative childhood memories.

My father regularly read these poems to me with melodramatic intonation when I was a child. He read (and sung) other things, but these were always the favourites. To this day, I know many of them by heart and I can only hear or read them with his delicious intonation.

Cautionary

Perhaps I have Belloc to thank for the fact I haven’t (yet) died as a result of chewing bits of string, slamming doors, telling lies, or running away from my nurse/nanny into the hungry jaws of a lion. Not that I was ever scared by these tales, perhaps in part because each one opens with a spoiler, and thereafter, I knew them anyway. Nor have I suffered deleterious consequences of making faces, throwing stones, or being unable to read.

Matilda
Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;

For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left to alone,
Went tiptoe to the telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London’s Nobel Fire-Brigade.
...
[Another evening]
That Night a Fire did break out-
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
...
For every time She shouted "Fire!"
They only answered "Little Liar!"
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were burned.


For a slightly more adult slant on this idea, in prose, see Saki's brilliant short story The Open Window, which I reviewed HERE.

Variety

The cautions are a quirky mix of bizarre, gory, hyperbolic, and (just occasionally) sensible. A few good children do well (obedience leading to inheritance, for example), but they’re less fun. This volume also includes a Moral Alphabet and shorter poems about peers (aristocrats) and beasts, but for us, it was and is about the Cautionary Tales.

Inevitably there are a few duffers, but the best are sublime. Then again, it’s impossible for me to rate these objectively (but I don’t care).

Join in

These are written for performance. Even if you’re alone, read them aloud.

The Frog
Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As ‘Slimy skin,’ or ‘Polly-wog,’
Or likewise ‘Ugly James,’
Or ‘Gape-a-grin,’ or ‘Toad-gone-wrong,’
Or ‘Billy Bandy-knees’:
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.
No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair;
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).

They’re so familiar to me, that it’s easy to give partial quotes and expect others to pick up with instant familiarity. Of course, few do. (It’s similar with Monty Python, Not the Nine O’Clock News, Flanders and Swann, and Yes Minister, amongst others.)

Age

Many of these poems do not sit easily with modern sensibilities, especially the colonial, class, and gender assumptions. The first were published in 1907 as parodies of earlier fare. Even the concept of moralistic tales is perhaps too preachy nowadays. But that’s their charm.

Lord Finchley
Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
Himself.
It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.

There’s also a dash of knowingness: a cautionary tale (Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably) that includes children being summoned to hear the story just told, and another (R, in the Moral Alphabet) about a reviewer of this very book.

Illustrations

The editions with Edward Gorey illustrations look excellent for anyone wanting a first taste, but they’re not for me. When I strive for objectivity, I grudgingly acknowledge that they’re more aesthetically appealling and skillful. But it’s Lord Ian Basil Gawaine Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood’s (yes, really) line drawings that are indelibly imprinted in my mind, accompanied by my father’s voice.


The Porcupine
What! Would you slap the Porcupine?
Unhappy child—desist!
Alas! That any friend of mine
Should turn Tupto-philist.*
* From the "tupto"=I strike; "philo"=I love; one that loves to strike; The word is not found in classical Greek, nor does it occur among the writers of the Renaissance—nor anywhere else.

See also

You can read nearly a dozen of the cautionary tales, with BTB’s illustrations, HERE.

The other comic poems/songs that were the bedrock of my childhood and then my own child’s, are in the Flanders and Swann Songbook (my review HERE).

For a modern and darker twist on these, see Tim Burton's Melancholy Death of the Oyster Boy (my review HERE). ...more
5

May 09, 2016

Thanks to Cecily for pointing me to this book! It was available online at Gutenberg, and I wasted no time in reading it. It is sarcastic, creepy and hilarious in a very English way.

About Jim, who ran away from his nurse:

With open Jaws, a Lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.

Now just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!

Thanks to Cecily for pointing me to this book! It was available online at Gutenberg, and I wasted no time in reading it. It is sarcastic, creepy and hilarious in a very English way.

About Jim, who ran away from his nurse:

With open Jaws, a Lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.

Now just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!

Matilda, the liar:

That Night a Fire did break out—
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street—
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence)—but all in vain!
For every time She shouted “Fire!”
They only answered “Little Liar!”
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

But Lord Lundy, who never learned to keep a stiff upper lip as befitted a gentleman, is easily my favourite.

It happened to Lord Lundy then,
As happens to so many men:
Towards the age of twenty-six,
They shoved him into politics;
In which profession he commanded
The income that his rank demanded
In turn as Secretary for
India, the Colonies, and War.
But very soon his friends began
To doubt if he were quite the man:
Thus, if a member rose to say
(As members do from day to day),
“Arising out of that reply ...!”
Lord Lundy would begin to cry.
A Hint at harmless little jobs
Would shake him with convulsive sobs.

While as for Revelations, these
Would simply bring him to his knees,
And leave him whimpering like a child.
It drove his Colleagues raving wild!
They let him sink from Post to Post,
From fifteen hundred at the most
To eight, and barely six—and then
To be Curator of Big Ben!...
And finally there came a Threat
To oust him from the Cabinet!

The Duke—his aged grand-sire—bore
The shame till he could bear no more.
He rallied his declining powers,
Summoned the youth to Brackley Towers,
And bitterly addressed him thus—
“Sir! you have disappointed us!
We had intended you to be
The next Prime Minister but three:
The stocks were sold; the Press was squared:
The Middle Class was quite prepared.
But as it is!... My language fails!
Go out and govern New South Wales!”

The Aged Patriot groaned and died:
And gracious! how Lord Lundy cried!


A note: This edition contains illustrations by Basil T. Blackwell. I need to still find the one with illustrations by Edward Gorey. ...more
4

Aug 23, 2016



One wonders who, with options wide
would name their screaming, new born baby Clyde?
Or
Even Hilaire -- a name so florid, French, and rude,
Seems pre-destined to start a feud.
Or
Inspire a Belle Edward of francs and also quids,
to scribble moral poems to reckless, dirty kids.
But
Scribble poems Hilaire he did, and books and also letters,
This funny man Belloc would often best his betters.
5

Jun 18, 2017

This hilarious albeit dark book is both imaginative and witty, and an excellent one for parents as well as children that they can both enjoy.
4

Sep 18, 2011

If only more parents read this to their little hooligans they might learn to be bad in more original ways.
3

Dec 19, 2019

Crikey! No wonder British children were so well-behaved a hundred years ago. They were scared out of their wits by gruesome accounts of what might happen to youngsters who stepped out of line. Assuming, that is, that the book was actually used for the purpose of cautioning children.

At the beginning of the book it says "Designed for the Admonition of Children between the ages of eight and fourteen years." So it seems the author's intent was clear. For adult readers, it's more of a shabby cousin Crikey! No wonder British children were so well-behaved a hundred years ago. They were scared out of their wits by gruesome accounts of what might happen to youngsters who stepped out of line. Assuming, that is, that the book was actually used for the purpose of cautioning children.

At the beginning of the book it says "Designed for the Admonition of Children between the ages of eight and fourteen years." So it seems the author's intent was clear. For adult readers, it's more of a shabby cousin to some of Shel Silverstein's genius--like a Victorian era version of Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out.

There's Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion.
And Matilda, Who told Lies and was Burned to Death.
And Rebecca, Who slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably.
And quite a few others, including one child who suffers for chewing bits of string. Was that a common form of misbehavior in 1907?

Finally we come to Charles Augustus Fortescue Who always Did what was Right, and so accumulated an Immense Fortune. He's the one held up as a shining example of the rewards of being virtuous. He seems like one of those pretentious, self-righteous little turds that everyone, including the adults, secretly hates.

This is a fun-ish quick read made available thanks to Project Gutenberg. ...more
5

Nov 29, 2008

I know many of these well enough to recite them. Some of my favourite quotes:

[Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion:]
"Now just imagine how it feels
when first your toes and then your heels
and then by gradual degrees
your insteps, ankles, calves and knees
are slowly eaten, bit by bit!
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted Hi!
The honest keeper heard his cry
Though very stout, he almost ran
to help the little gentleman!"

[Henry King:]
"Physicians of the utmost fame
Were I know many of these well enough to recite them. Some of my favourite quotes:

[Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion:]
"Now just imagine how it feels
when first your toes and then your heels
and then by gradual degrees
your insteps, ankles, calves and knees
are slowly eaten, bit by bit!
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted Hi!
The honest keeper heard his cry
Though very stout, he almost ran
to help the little gentleman!"

[Henry King:]
"Physicians of the utmost fame
Were summoned swiftly but they came
and answered as they took their fees
There is no cure for this disease
Henry will very soon be dead
His parents stood beside his bed
lamenting his untimely death..."

[Charles Augustus Fortescue:]
"And as for finding mutton fat
unappetising, far from that
He often of his own acccord
Would stand beside his father's board
and beg for, if he would not mind
the greasiest morsels he could find" ...more
4

Mar 23, 2017

CAUTIONARY TALES FOR CHILDREN, written by Hialaire Belloc, and illustrated by Edward Gorey. (Naturally, it was the Edward Gorey part that had me purchasing this in the first place.)

The stories/punishments for children were amusing--the deadly ones, better ;), but the illustrations by Gorey are what really makes the book a collectible! 3* for text, 5* for illustrations.
5

Nov 13, 2019

Belloc's Tales were originally published in 1907. They're amusing. They are a perfect text for Gorey: a little Old Possum's, a little Gashlycrumb. They are so perfect a text for Gorey's art that I couldn't believe the edition was first published in 2002. I spent longer looking up Belloc and the various editions than I did reading the short book. This just seems so very much like something Gorey would have done in the 50s.
Come to that, he may have done. The Estate released the illustrations for Belloc's Tales were originally published in 1907. They're amusing. They are a perfect text for Gorey: a little Old Possum's, a little Gashlycrumb. They are so perfect a text for Gorey's art that I couldn't believe the edition was first published in 2002. I spent longer looking up Belloc and the various editions than I did reading the short book. This just seems so very much like something Gorey would have done in the 50s.
Come to that, he may have done. The Estate released the illustrations for publication without specifying (as far as I can tell) when it was he actually drew them. Maybe they had been lying about for 50 years. Perhaps he drew them even earlier.
Isn't it pretty to think so?

Library copy ...more
2

Jan 02, 2017

After reading the review of my GR friend Orinoco Womble, I downloaded this little freebie and read it today. There were no illustrations in my copy and the little verses but amusing, but pretty gruesome and certainly not suitable for children!
4

Jan 01, 2017

Ostensibly a children's book, but obviously for adults. It's the kind of thing that would be published in the popular magazines of the day such as Punch or the Spectator. Thanks to Project Gutenberg for this trip down memory lane.

Many years ago when I was a kid, there were a lot of programmes on PBS to encourage kids (and others) to read. I remembered the poem about the boy who slips away from Nanny at the zoo and gets eaten by a lion. I even remembered the illustration; but remember the author Ostensibly a children's book, but obviously for adults. It's the kind of thing that would be published in the popular magazines of the day such as Punch or the Spectator. Thanks to Project Gutenberg for this trip down memory lane.

Many years ago when I was a kid, there were a lot of programmes on PBS to encourage kids (and others) to read. I remembered the poem about the boy who slips away from Nanny at the zoo and gets eaten by a lion. I even remembered the illustration; but remember the author I could not, and over the past decades I came to the conclusion I might have dreamed the whole thing. Reading the whole short book took about 15 min, and I also made the acquaintance of "Matilda" who "told such dreadful lies it made one gasp and stretch one's eyes"--a character referenced in a 1970s Masterpiece Theatre play called "Esther Tells Such Dreadful Lies"--when the liar was in reality her elder brother, who told her a lot of codswallop and then laughed when she got in trouble for spreading it. Ah yes...the joy of heartless siblings. ...more
3

Feb 22, 2018

Dated but cute
Evil side of me would love to give these to kids ad scare the living bejesus out of them for doing the actions mentions
I know thats not what a nice auntie would do Dated but cute
Evil side of me would love to give these to kids ad scare the living bejesus out of them for doing the actions mentions
I know that’s not what a nice auntie would do ...more
5

Apr 11, 2018

This book lives at my grandparents house. I remember always asking my Grandpa to read it to me whenever I stayed over night.

The tales were fun and for a child my age (5-7?), they were believable and frightening in a silly/fun way.

I know my grandpa enjoyed reading these to me as much as I enjoyed listening to them, this will always be a childhood book I will remember, with fond memories of staying round my grandparents at such a young age.

Its one of those memories where you remember what This book lives at my grandparents house. I remember always asking my Grandpa to read it to me whenever I stayed over night.

The tales were fun and for a child my age (5-7?), they were believable and frightening in a silly/fun way.

I know my grandpa enjoyed reading these to me as much as I enjoyed listening to them, this will always be a childhood book I will remember, with fond memories of staying round my grandparents at such a young age.

It’s one of those memories where you remember what things looked like and seemed like as a child. I remember the house seeming very different and much bigger as a child, all the rooms seemed different. Things change as well as our perspectives as we grow older...but it’s fun to remember how we viewed things and places as a young child.

A very nostalgic book. ...more
3

Jul 11, 2019

Tales about naughty kids & their tragic ends, to make them & other children learn a lesson. My favorite one was of Matilda's.
This is the book >> https://www.gutenberg.org/files/27424...
4

Jun 23, 2018

5* art
4* poems

I had to watch Squirt's face while I read this one to him. Would he be upset by the idea of a lion eating a child? Apparently not. What about a child burning to death in a house fire? No reaction. Well, he was doing somersaults on the bed in between looking at the pictures, if that can be considered a reaction. Then there was the one about a boy who was playing with a loaded gun and aimed it at his sister (and missed)...yeah. That one got a response. "If you see a gun or a match, 5* art
4* poems

I had to watch Squirt's face while I read this one to him. Would he be upset by the idea of a lion eating a child? Apparently not. What about a child burning to death in a house fire? No reaction. Well, he was doing somersaults on the bed in between looking at the pictures, if that can be considered a reaction. Then there was the one about a boy who was playing with a loaded gun and aimed it at his sister (and missed)...yeah. That one got a response. "If you see a gun or a match, Mom, leave it alone. Don't touch it. Put it in the garbage." Well. I'm not sure what to think. I'm probably a Very Bad Parent for reading this to Squirt. It's interesting, back in the day when this was written, a book with the title "Everybody Poops" would've been scandalous. ...more
5

Aug 30, 2018

You know these poems will be amusing just by reading the titles:

1) JIM, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion
2) HENRY KING, who chewed bits of string, and was early cut off in dreadful agonies
3) MATILDA, who told lies, and was burned to death
4) FRANKLIN HYDE, who caroused in the dirt and was corrected by his uncle
5) GODOLPHIN HORNE, who was cursed with the sin of pride, and became a boot-black
6) ALGERNON, who played with a loaded gun, and, on missing his sister was reprimanded by You know these poems will be amusing just by reading the titles:

1) JIM, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion
2) HENRY KING, who chewed bits of string, and was early cut off in dreadful agonies
3) MATILDA, who told lies, and was burned to death
4) FRANKLIN HYDE, who caroused in the dirt and was corrected by his uncle
5) GODOLPHIN HORNE, who was cursed with the sin of pride, and became a boot-black
6) ALGERNON, who played with a loaded gun, and, on missing his sister was reprimanded by his father
7) HILDEBRAND, who was frightened by a passing motor, and was brought to reason
8) LORD LUNDY, who was too freely moved to tears, and thereby ruined his political career
9) REBECCA, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably
10) GEORGE, who played with a dangerous toy, and suffered a catastrophe of considerable dimensions
11) CHARLES AUGUSTUS FORTESCUE, who always did what was right, and so accumulated an immense fortune ...more
5

Mar 04, 2018

What a delightful book! I have to admit, "Matilda," the first poem of Belloc's I ever read, is still my personal favourite, but the rest of this collection did not fail. I love all the illustrations as well. I can't wait to teach this in my classroom.
5

Jan 26, 2017

Delightfully dark and twisted - like all good books for kids should be.
4

Dec 29, 2016

Brilliant little book probably published donkeys years ago about rhyming short snippets / tales for children to heed in life. One of my favourite which I read out to my kids was about a little kid called Jim who ran away from his nurse (carers in today speak) and got eatened by a lion
There was a boy whose name was Jim
His friends were very good to him
They gave him tea and cakes and jam
And slices of delicious ham
And chocolate with pink inside
And little tricycles to ride
They read him stories Brilliant little book probably published donkeys years ago about rhyming short snippets / tales for children to heed in life. One of my favourite which I read out to my kids was about a little kid called Jim who ran away from his nurse (carers in today speak) and got eatened by a lion 
There was a boy whose name was Jim
His friends were very good to him
They gave him tea and cakes and jam
And slices of delicious ham
And chocolate with pink inside
And little tricycles to ride
They read him stories through and through
And even took him to the zoo
But there it was the awful fate
Befell him, which I now relate
You know (at least you ought to know
For I have often told you so)
That children never are allowed
To leave their nurses in a crowd
Now this was Jim's especial foible
He ran away when he was able
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away
He hadn't gone a yard when BANG
With open jaws a lion sprang
And hungrily began to eat
The boy, beginning at his feet
Now just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels
And then by varying degrees
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees
Are slowly eaten bit by bit
No wonder Jim detested it
No wonder that he shouted "Ai"
The honest keeper heard his cry
Though very fat, he almost ran
To help the little gentleman
"Ponto," he ordered as he came
For Ponto was the lion's name
"Ponto," he said with angry frown
"Down sir, let go, put it down!"
The lion made a sudden stop
He let the dainty morsel drop
And slunk reluctant to his cage
Snarling with disappointed rage
But when he bent him over, Jim
The honest keeper's eyes grew dim
The lion having reached his head
The miserable boy was dead
When nurse informed his parents they
Were more concerned than I can say
His mother as she dried her eyes
Said "It gives me no surprise
He would not do as he was told."
His father who was self-controlled
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end.
And always keep ahold of nurse
For fear of finding something worse.
Some of the other good verseses in this short book (which I shamelessly read so as to be able to hit my 100 book a year challenge) were:
• Henry king – who would eat in between meals
• Matilda – who lied all the time.
• Charles August Fortescue – who always did what was right
Cute little book worth a short half hour read.
...more
4

Aug 28, 2012

Like his Bad Child's Book of Beasts, this short collection will make you laugh out loud while reading it. Here, for instance, is the story of one Henry King:Henry King,

Who chewed bits of String, and was early cut off in Dreadful Agonies.

The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was
chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.
Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered,
as they took their Fees,
There is no Cure for this Like his Bad Child's Book of Beasts, this short collection will make you laugh out loud while reading it. Here, for instance, is the story of one Henry King:Henry King,

Who chewed bits of String, and was early cut off in Dreadful Agonies.

The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was
chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.
Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered,
as they took their Fees,
“There is no Cure for this Disease.
Henry will very soon be dead.”
His Parents stood about his Bed
Lamenting his Untimely Death,
When Henry, with his Latest Breath,
Cried—
“Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch and Tea
Are all the Human Frame requires ...”
With that the Wretched Child expires.
The accompanying illustrations are excellent. All in all, a delightful appetizer!
...more
3

Aug 24, 2012

The English version of Struwwelpeter. I definitely prefer the German version. In the English version the only story I really liked was the one about lying.
4

Sep 15, 2011

Edward Gorey fastidiously illustrates these cautionary tales. One would be tempted to read one of these scary tales to a particularly bratty kid to cure him. Might work.
4

Oct 31, 2017

This caught my eye when I saw "Illustrated by Edward Gorey" on the cover. It's a delightful book for children of all ages, and Gorey's drawings are, as always, magnificent and sublime. I LOVE his art and have ever since my dad introduced me to him at a very young age by way of the Treehorn books, which continue to be some of my favorite books ever.
The Treehorn Trilogy: The Shrinking of Treehorn, Treehorn's Treasure, and Treehorn's Wish
Poetry: 4 stars
Illustrations: 5+ stars

Highly recommended!!
3

Jun 30, 2018

I know it's satire but some of it seemed a bit too much. There are different "cautionary tales" about different children in different situation. I don't know if I can articulate how there's a difference between getting eaten by a lion because you weren't listening and being beaten by an uncle because you were too loud but there is definitely is a difference to me. One is silly and outrageous and the other is...not. I love the Gorey illustrations, as always.
0

Oct 15, 2019

Some striking art of scary hands and good rhyming. Well written but not very memorable.

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