YIKES! Is this the most gruesome kids book ever written?

We are certified book junkies in this house so I’ll often pick up new titles from the op-shop, given how greedily we devour them.

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Most of them cost less than $2 each so I’ll often buy them sight unseen, particularly if we already know other books by the same author, which is what I did when I grabbed a copy of YIKES! In Seven Wild Adventures, Who Would You Be? by Alison Lester. We’re fans of her whimsical yet slightly-too-wordy stories, which are mostly enjoyable with some ad-hoc editing (yeah, I’m a total wanker. I like economy).

So when I picked this one up I assumed it would be much the same. The concept certainly sounded interesting, and I thought the interactive element was a cool touch. It’s simple: the author sets the scene, introduces eight characters and then invites the kids to choose which one they want to be.

Then, on the next page she sets about the task of BRUTALLY MURDERING THEM IN INCREASINGLY GRUESOME WAYS.

Think I am being melodramatic?

You be the judge…

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Scene 1: A raging storm at sea

WHOOPS! The ship sinks. Several people look certain to drown, including a baby. One gets eaten by a shark. The rest are pretty much all fucked, whichever way you look at it.

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Scene 2: The Wild West

“What’s that man doing mummy?”

Oh, nothing… JUST BEING EATEN BY A COUGAR WHILE HE LIES DEAD IN A DITCH. Or, at least I hope he’s already dead otherwise his day just got a whole lot more messed up.

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Scene 3: The Big Top

Man incinerates cage full of leopards with mouth-fire.

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Scene 4: The Frozen North

We meet the “hard, embittered contract killer known as Deadly Dan” before he gets strangled by Georgia Swift, just as he is about to take a hit out on someone.

Because I REALLY wanted to explain what a CONTRACT KILLER is to my THREE YEAR OLD, fuckyouverymuch.

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I threw the book aside with great force at that point, but if we’d kept reading we’d have encountered the following morbid scenarios:

Sorry kiddo, you picked the bus driver. He’s being devoured by a saw-toothed space alien.

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Sorry kiddo, you picked the bandit leader. He gets mauled by a tiger just before he stabs the princess. Lily gets slowly squeezed to death by a python and Jamshed drowned in the river. His hat floats forlornly downstream.

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Sorry kiddo, you picked the housemaid. Turns out she’s a vampire who gets stabbed violently through the chest with a wooden stake. She’s a bleeder, for sure.

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So yeah, that was enjoyable. Way to fucking traumatise my kid.


88 thoughts on “YIKES! Is this the most gruesome kids book ever written?

  1. I thought the gingerbread boy was bad, but SHIT, that’s fucked up. Sweet dream, hugzilla children.

  2. I guess it’s sort of teaching them about how life is really dangerous so they should aspire to be paranoid, suspicious and wary of every moving thing around them. I can’t put a more positive spin on this. Wow. Trust you to pick it off the shelf.

  3. OMFG are you serious?! We have her book The Farm and I thought it was a little on the realistic side for bedtime but, you know, farm – life lessons. This is a whole new level though!!!

    Btw I’m glad I’m not the only one who edits books as I read them. This is me with the entire Mr Men series.

    • OMG I did that with Mr Men too! It actually got to the point that I was so over it that I “DELETED” them all, which is Hugzilla-speak for “I donated them back to Vinnies”

  4. Holy shit haha. There is some weird stuff out there.
    I personally dread movie days in our house these days, with a 4 year old who scares easily, it is SO hard to find movies that don’t make him cower in fear OR make me want to gouge my eyes out and chop my ears off. You also don’t realise how violent and inappropriately sexual EVERYTHING IS until you have a kid, I swear.

  5. Wow. Just wow. Ms Lester must of been having a bad day (or trip) when she wrote than one. Her book Magic Beach is a big favourite in our house. This title sounds a tad different and not as friendly as collecting shells on a beach holiday.

  6. That’s hilarious….I still hate disney for the Little Mermaid – the whole point of that is she gives up everything and dies for a guy who doesn’t even really know she exists and strolls off into the sunset with another chick….That one is a pretty harsh life lesson…

  7. Is it just preparing kids for the big bad world out there? After all, who doesn’t encounter contract killers and cougars and tigers. Run for lives, kids! Or rather, stay indoors and don’t go anywhere.

    This book’s good enough to help kids develop an anxiety disorder!

  8. Erm, as an ex primary school teacher, I kind of think I “know” my kids lit, but I’ve never come across this book, and I can totally see why! I hope you aced your chucking skills and slam dunked this tome straight to the bin! As for editing, that’s totes a thing! You got skillz!

  9. FAAAAARRRK!! I couldn’t stop laughing though. You have a way with words, my dear. Let’s hope this book is studied in the land of writers, on How To Not Write A Childrens Book.

  10. What the hell?!!! Are you sure this is an Alison Lester book? What is with the contract killer part? That’s completely random and psychotic. And why does everyone have to be attacked or die a gruesome death? Who’s the dude breaking Deadly Dan’s neck? Clearly some badass more vicious than deadly Dan. Christ, I’m going to have nightmares tonight. #teamIBOT

  11. You really know how to pick the gold! I wonder if picture books need to go through any rating systems at all. I sort of like that it’s the last refuge of the very weird. But perhaps not quite appropriate for the toddlers.

  12. Yeah. It is off the wall that’s for sure! And I agree it is surprising because most of Alison Lester’s stuff is great! Noni the Pony and My Farm are two of our favourites in my house. What was she thinking?

    What’s the opposite to the pool room? That’s where is needs to go.

  13. Meanwhile the authors of this book, are total stoners laughing their asses off their book actually made publication! It’s who ya know that works best in this world!!! Your poor babies – I’d read Spot for the 7 trillionth time to avoid that harsh crap!!!

  14. OMG! I can’t believe that!! I would have thought the same as you picking up an Alison Lester book…that story is horrific! What was she thinking!?!

  15. Maybe it’s like Go the Fuck to Sleep and not actually meant to be read by kids at all. I’m going to cling to that theory because I don’t want to have to deal with the alternative! Think about it though, just about everything for kids has a gruesome alternative meaning. Rock a bye baby, anyone?!

  16. Meanwhile my son spent today at kindergarten explaining how Medussa gets her head chopped off to all the other kids, including a fair degree of graphic detail and some comic misunderstanding….

    He seems to think she gets her head chopped off more than once, which is challenging believe me.

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