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May I eat you, please?

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If the world represented in children’s books somehow became real, someone would probably ask to eat you at least once a week. I am unsure what is more disturbing, the act or the courtesy with which the question is usually posed. In Maurice Sendak’s Pierre: A cautionary tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue (the moral is, “care,” and it is fantastic) the lion not only repeatedly asks Pierre if he would mind being eaten, but also explains “And then you will be inside of me.” I guess if I were going to be consumed, I would appreciate the honesty? Big Black Bear (who is not really that big, he’s only three years old) informs his host-prey-friend that he has eaten other girls in Wong Herbert Yee’s Big Black Bear. In Martin Waddell and Leonie Lord’s The Super Hungry Dinosaur the dinosaur (who is super hungry) asks Hal if he could eat him, his mom, his dad, or his dog (strangely Hal replies no to all requests).

At the end of these stories the would-be-eater and the would-be-eaten usually end up friends. Manners will get you everywhere.

What would scare you more, someone trying to eat you or someone politely requesting to do so?

8 responses »

  1. Pingback: Update: May I eat you please, really? | Children's books

  2. On this topic, check out “Wait! I Want to Tell You a Story”. I won’t tell you the premise as that would take the fun away, but it is very funny. Sam cracks up over it; Ben doesn’t get it yet, but your little girl is so advanced in humor that she might ;).

    Reply
    • We’ll have to find a copy of it! Sounds fun, thank you! If it makes me laugh, it will make her laugh. I’m not sure if she’s advanced so much that she has discovered the social power of laughing when everyone else does.

      Reply
  3. It definitely makes sense that this is disturbing, yet at the same time I remember stories like this as a child. And I never was bothered by it. Sure, it was scary to be eaten, but I never was too scared because I didn’t think about it much.

    Then again, maybe some children would be very frightened, in which case perhaps children’s authors should be more careful in this area.

    Reply
    • I am not advocating censorship, these posts are not meant to be taken too seriously. Sorry if that did not come through.

      Reply
      • That’s okay. Don’t worry, I was laughing as I read your posts and didn’t think you were as serious as my replies might imply I did. I’m just like that–I reply seriously when people are joking. (It drives my sister crazy.)

      • Okay! It can be hard to read tone in written work, thank you for letting me know, and for your comments!

  4. Pingback: The Super Hungry Dinosaur (by Martin Waddell & illustrated by Leonie Lord) | Children's books

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