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This German Children's Book Is The Creepiest Thing You'll See Today

"...and then the tailor cut the little boy's thumbs off. Good night."

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In "Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben" ("The Story of the Black Boys"), "Nikolas" catches three boys teasing a dark-skinned boy. To teach them a lesson, he dips the three boys into black ink.

In "Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher" ("The Story of the Thumb-Sucker"), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she leaves the house he resumes his thumb sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.

"Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar" ("The Story of the Soup-Kaspar") begins as Augustus, a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.


"Die Geschichte von Hans Guck-in-die-Luft" ("The Story of Johnny Head-in-Air") is about a boy who habitually fails to watch where he's walking. One day he walks into a river; he is soon rescued, but his school bag drifts away.

Hoffmann wrote Struwwelpeter in response to a lack of good children's books. Intending to buy a picture book as a Christmas present for his 3-year-old son, Hoffmann instead wrote and illustrated his own book, which he published in 1845.