Monday, June 01, 2009

Paperbacks of Doom!


(Note: Some of this was originally posted as a comment to 10 Great Books for Traumatizing Children)

When I was growing up (late 70s early 80s,) I remember a series of cheap paperbacks, which, in retrospect, must have been created with Let’s get these kids reading with our gritty, tough stories in mind.
These included:

  • The "True Ghost Story" featuring a ghost with a bleeding hole in his head (drawing helpfully included). We’re told in life he “sniffed glue”
  • The "True Ghost Story" of basement haunted by the decomposing corpse ghost who'd been murdered by her husband, then cut up and buried under the floor bricks. Gruesome illustration included.
  • The guy on the baseball team who brought cheer and joy, even when the team lost. Surprise! He was secretly sick. Then died.
  • Little Jimmy is sick in the hospital. For Christmas he gets a dog and names it "Lucky." He seems to be getting better. Surprise! He dies a few weeks later.
  • ”Cool Sed,” some pimp-esque lowlife who’s oh-so-cool. Then he gets shot. “Cool Sed is Dead.”
These books also introduced me to Lizzie Bordon, Kitty Genovese, the Hartford Circus Fire, and Hiroshima ("their skin turned black and fell off").

Real or fictional, characters in these books had it rough. Blood pooled, bones broke, diseases struck, animals attacked, ships sank, quicksand awaited...

...it wasn’t until years later that it occurred to me how violent and grim these books were, and how odd it was that they were aimed at kids. What were they thinking?

5 comments:

Linda said...

GREAT illustration!

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.

stray said...

It is -- really fun composition!

stray said...

I was such a scaredy-cat kid. These might have sent me over the edge.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Stray.
I was a scaredy-scaredy kid myself. Lucky for me I was in fifth grade when I first came across these. Had I found them a few years earlier I'd have beenfreaked.