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Cautionary Tales for Children

Cautionary Tales for Children

3.5 2
by Hilaire Belloc

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Known as a central figure in English literature, Hilaire Belloc produced a number of stunning, funny, and clever admonishments for children. The tales in this volume, illustrated by the inimitable Edward Gorey, contain instructive lessons for almost everyone.

For those children prone to wandering off from their caretakers, there is the story of a certain young Jim,


Known as a central figure in English literature, Hilaire Belloc produced a number of stunning, funny, and clever admonishments for children. The tales in this volume, illustrated by the inimitable Edward Gorey, contain instructive lessons for almost everyone.

For those children prone to wandering off from their caretakers, there is the story of a certain young Jim, "who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion." Those known to stretch the truth will hardly be comforted by the tale of Matilda, "who told lies and was burned to death." And as for those of us—and our children—who tend to the vainglorious, there is the sobering tale of Godolphin Horne, "who was cursed with the sin of pride and became a boot-black."

Witty, brilliant, and strikingly irreverent.

Author Biography: Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) was one of the most prolific and provocative writers of his time. The author of dozens of titles on widely varying subjects, his work includes poetry, fiction, social commentary, biography, and history.

Edward Gorey was one of the most renowned artists and writers of our time. His illustrated books include The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Doubtful Guest, The Epiplectic Bicycle, The Haunted Tea-Cosy, and The Object Lesson. Gorey died in 2000.

Editorial Reviews

Kathleen Odean
First published in 1907, Belloc's tongue-in-cheek verse satirizes the cautionary tales told to Victorian children. This edition features never-before-published illustrations by Gorey that were found after his death in 2000. The poems warn children of the often fatal hazards of such sins as pride and lying. Matilda, who tells lies, is killed in a fire. Jim, who runs away from his nurse, is eaten by a lion. Gorey's adultlike children, with their formal clothes and deadpan expressions, take their fates with equanimity. While some parents will be put off by the violence, many children will find the book hilarious.
Publishers Weekly
Edward Gorey discovered these darkly humorous verses by Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) and created never-before-published drawings to accompany them in Cautionary Tales for Children. The pithy rhymes make examples out of "Jim, who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion," and "Matilda, who told lies, and was Burned to Death," among others.
Children's Literature
This book should inspire giggles in older kids. Dark humorist Edward Gorey lends his superb drawing skills to this text by man-of-letters Hilaire Belloc. First published in 1907, the tales satirize the Victorian propensity to scrupulously instruct youngsters in manners and morals. In these tales, an extreme fate awaits the disobedient child. An arrogant boy becomes a lowly bootblack. Another gobbles string, which knots his innards. Belloc and Gorey treat the usual Victorian pieties and didactic concerns with a delicious irreverence. Gorey must have felt he had found a kindred spirit when he came upon Belloc's work in the late 20th century. The drawings were found after Gorey's death in 2000 and seem a perfect match for Belloc's seven odd tales. 2002, Harcourt, Ages 9 up.
—Mary Quattlebaum
Library Journal
Gorey didn't just illustrate these tales by major English literatus Belloc; he is credited with rediscovering them. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Tales is written in the style of a picture book, with sprightly little rhymes that speak of the foibles of children and the horrible consequences thereof. First penned nearly a century ago, the sort of story that Belloc parodies continues to be written today and read to youngsters, but readers who are more sophisticated will better appreciate these tales of disproportionate punishment. Children are whimsically eaten by lions or consigned to life as a bootblack for their sins-or, by contrast, a boy who fires a loaded gun at his sister is reprimanded sternly. Gorey's artfully antiquated style exactly fits Belloc's writing and brings this edition to life-a single pen-and-ink line shows the sister's satisfaction at hearing her brother called to task. The previously unpublished illustrations meticulously convey texture, such as the clothing of the myriad physicians called in to help poor Henry King who swallowed string, and the expressions of the self-satisfied adults seem so earnestly and seriously drawn as to make the whole that much more humorous. The art is refined and genteel-never gory. Teenagers will enjoy this quick and cathartic read.-Paul Brink, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Typically deadpan, previously unpublished scenes of Victorian ladies, gents, and children decorate seven of Belloc's savage little ditties, including "Henry King, Who Chewed Bits Of String, And Was Early Cut Off In Dreadful Agonies," "Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse, And Was Eaten By A Lion," and the ever-popular "Matilda, Who Told Lies, And Was Burned To Death." Stretching the stories across several pages of illustration (as many as 12 in some cases) allows the full effect of Gorey's macabre wit to sink in and the timing for a reappearance of Belloc's irreverent warnings couldn't be more perfect. Gorey gets credit for "re-discovering" these early 20th-century verses, but they have appeared previously in several collections or single editions. Still, his gothic sensibility made him the perfect illustrator for them, and Lemony Snicket fans will undoubtedly swoon with delight. (Poetry. 9-11)
From the Publisher


"Invaluable to Gorey-ites."--The New York Review of Books

"A marvelously entertaining volume . . . I came down on these pages like a wolf on the flock, and devoured them in an afternoon."--The Washington Post Book World

"A master of a genre of graphic storytelling and a brilliant draftsman."--The New York Times Book Review

"A man of enormous erudition . . . An artist and writer of genius."--The New Yorker

"An American original . . . One of this century's foremost eccentric geniuses."--Print Magazine

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Meet the Author

Edward Gorey (1925-2000) wrote and illustrated such popular books as The Doubtful Guest, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and The Headless Bust. He was also a very successful set and costume designer, earning a Tony Award for his Broadway production of Edward Gorey's Dracula. Animated sequences of his work have introduced the PBS series Mystery! since 1980.

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Cautionary Tales for Children 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cute stories, but I was hoping for pictures...no pictures in this one. A co-worker has an original book with the pictures that she has offered to let me see.