Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vintage Children's Book - Slovenly Peter

Just in case modern methods of child behavior modification aren't seeming effective, one can always turn to Dr. Henry Hoffmann and his tales of what happened to naughty children - in the book Slovenly Peter.*

From a 2006 NPR Weekend Edition:

'One of the most popular children's books of 1845 is back in bookstores. Like many children's stories of that era, Der Struwwelpeter was written to frighten kids into good behavior. 

Few Americans today know the book, but its influence can be found in other familiar stories....

Loosely translated as Slovenly Peter, this new version of the 19th century collection of cautionary tales looks like a typical children's book.

Der Struwwelpeter  had a huge following in the States, up until World War I, when anti-German sentiment caused a dip in popularity. But the stories have lived on, influencing cartoon bad boys, the Katzenjammer Kids and later Dennis the Menace. 

The book also helped set the stage for children's book classics like Where the Wild Things Are and the beloved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

Artist Bob Staake says his parents introduced him to Slovenly Peter, and it's still a rite of passage for children and grandchildren of many German immigrants' 

The Story of Augustus Who Would Not Have Any Soup 

 Augustus was a chubby lad;
Fat ruddy cheeks Augustus had;
And everybody saw with joy
The plump and hearty healthy boy,
He ate and drank as he was told,
And never let his soup get cold.
But one day, one cold winter's day,
He threw away the spoon and screamed:
'O take the nasty soup away!
I won't have any soup today:
I will not, will not eat my soup!
I will not eat it, no!

Next day, now look, the picture shows
How lank and lean Augustus grows!
Yet, though he feels so weak and ill,
The naughty fellow cries out still - 
'Not any soup for me, I say!
O take the nasty soup away!
I will not, will not eat my soup!
I will not eat it, no!'

The third day comes. O what a sin!
To make himself so pale and thin.
Yet, when the soup is put on table,
He screams, as loud as he is able - 
'Not any soup for me, I say!
O take the nasty soup away!
I won't have any soup today!'

Look at him, now the fourth day's come!
He scarce outweighs a sugar-plum;
He's like a little bit of thread;
And on the fifth day he was - dead!

Remember, we did read Grimm's Fairy Tales. This is a fun book with silly ink illustrations. Although there is no date in my copy of Slovenly Peter, according to a Google search, I believe that it is a reprint from the late 1930s.

*And no, I wouldn't use this book as a guide for child raising, but it is fun. I wonder if Mr. Rogers read Slovenly Peter to his boys. ;-)


'Midnight Jasmine'

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Unknown said...

What a great book! That definitely is something to hold on to... they just don't make books like that anymore :)

Sandra said...

i love the illustrations in the book, and am laughing now because i think my dad used this book to raise me. that last story was his way of looking at things, either eat what is put in front of you or starve and i did and turned out fine. great find on this one. seems the world has gone the complete opposite of this book and we should be somewhere in between. yesterday in the doc office i found an article oh how to stop being a nagger. the first step it said. Children fighting at the dinner table, don't nag, just quietly get up and take your plate in your room and eave them there. Please can i mail this book to the writer of the article?

Paulette said...

I have never heard of or saw this book before so I was fascinated to see the illustrations and read the snippets along with the story. Love it! I wonder if I don't eat for a few days if I could lose weight that fast:))

Cranberry Morning said...

Paulette, this might work for losing weight, but I'd be sure to quit after Day Four. :-)

Debra Hawkins said...

Love this! I love to read the old books on parenting and children and such. So fascinating!

Kristen Rettig said...

Thank you for sharing. I love the old advice books on baby care and manners, etc. Still practical today in it's way!

Denise said...

Wow, what a book.

Yenta Mary said...

Oh, how utterly charming! I wonder if Roald Dahl read this, naming Augustus after this child ...?

Heide at ApronHistory said...

It reminds me of the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books we use to read. If you didn't wash behind your ears, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle would plant carrots seeds in them!

Lois Christensen said...

When our daughter, Olivia, was born, she received a book with that character in it from relatives in Germany. My father was originally from Germany. It was written in German and just sat on her shelf, the print was too small for my dad...his eyesight was pretty bad. Great pictures! Enjoy your day.

laurie said...

interesting post! I always enjoy your topics.

Unknown said...

Oh dear - not quite 'PC' now are they hahaha but delightful all the same :))

Life Happens said...

That really is an old school book! What a treasure.

Anonymous said...

We just read about Augustus at bedtime the other night. It is a part of a collection of poems and stories in "The Children's Book of Virtues" by Bill Bennett. Funny thing is that the boys won't sit still for any book...but they sit still for these.

KayleighAnn said...

I LOVE Vintage books, I am lucky to live walking distance from 3 bookshops to browse for these kind of beauties. Nothing like good ol' fashioned learning!

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Wonderful book. Great illustrations too. This would be an interesting read. thanks for popping in and leaving me sweet words. you are right, if I did post my addy, I might have some guests from blogland.

ruthie said...

Nothing beats the old stories. There was so much imagination in them. Thank you for your comment on my blog! I enjoy hearing from you.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It's so much fun to read the old children's books. Even those written in the '50s and '60s when I was a kid had much different messages...and lots of morals to the story. I'm off to look at the soap...again!

Chatty Crone said...

I don't have that book, but I have one from when my mother was little - they sure tell stern stories back then didn't they? sandie

Carla from The River said...

I enjoyed the last story. :) LOL

Mary said...

Hi Judy, I am your newest follower, as of now. That children's book is quite a show stopper. Haa ahaa. Those scare the children into being good books only go a little way until the child things harder than the book's tale. I love the pictures in some...Kate (forgot) has precious illustrations. Nice find. Mary

Tiffanee said...

So cool!! You won a giveaway on my blog. Will you please email me at!! Thanks!!

Cherry's Prairie Primitives said...

Love the vintage book and all the stories!!

Empty Nester said...

Interesting book. I wonder if tales like that really worked on kids? For me, I would have been inspired to rebel. LOL

SImple and Serene Living said...

Love old children's books. Thanks so much for sharing this one.

Little City Farm said...

Oh wow. That book is amazing. I would be afraid and I would be knitting, lol. Great share.

Jean | said...

Uh oh, do we have another Blogger glitch? I left a comment on this post yesterday, and it's not here. Thought I should mention it because I've had a few people tell me lately they haven't been able to leave a comment on my blog.

Anyway ... Judy, I loved this post! I've never heard of Slovenly Peter. You come up with the most interesting info!

Mama Hen said...

How books have changed. I have noticed that a lot of the classics are back in the book stores. I will be ordering the orange soap soon. I just finished the sample. It is my favorite one now. I hope you are well. have a great night!

Mama Hen

Unknown said...

Mom had an old story book she used to read to use from, and I loved the illustrations. I don't know what happened to it, but I loved that book so. The pictures in this book reminded me of it!


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