#AtoZChallenge Day 1: Letter A



“A is for Amy, who fell down the stairs…”  And so begins one of the most gruesome children’s books ever written.  Satire it might have been, but one has to wonder just how many children in the last forty-odd years have had nightmares as a result of reading Edward Gorey’s book.  Gorey put the children featured in his book into the most bizarre and unbelievable situations, in an attempt to not only teach children the alphabet but to point out the absurdity of some parents’ paranoia regarding their children’s safety in a day long before the term “helicopter parent” was coined.

The downright morbid (but mostly ridiculous) fates of these children aptly illustrated the irrational fears many parents harbored regarding their children’s untimely demise.  At one time some of these catastrophic ends may have been legitimate concerns (being attacked by a bear was not entirely out of the question in frontier days, after all, and even in modern times a fall down the stairs can easily prove fatal), but most of them are extremely unlikely, particularly the fate of the last child (unless she had somehow managed to become an alcoholic as a preschooler, or the gin was produced in her parents’ homemade still and therefore prone to having unintentionally poisonous ingredients in the finished product).  But as long as there are parents, I suppose there will be equally ridiculous and totally irrational fears for them to deal with, so why not laugh at them along with everyone else who reads this classic children’s book?  (Okay, some of us laughing at the book may sound like we belong in a psych ward somewhere, but that’s another story entirely…)

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21 Responses to #AtoZChallenge Day 1: Letter A

  1. calensariel says:

    I’ve never heard of that book and I used to teach kindergarten! Sounds very bizarre! Interesting post. Well done!

    A to Z Challenge Letter A

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I grew up watching Mystery! on PBS, and never knew Ed Gorey was the one who did the artwork for the opening sequence until years later, when I discovered his children’s alphabet book (can you believe that was written for children? Yikes! I know it was meant as satire basically, but wow!).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Megan Morgan says:

    The Gashlycrumb Tinies! Oh my God, I love this book! I always think of Neville, it was the first time I heard the word ‘ennui.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t help it, I’m such a Potterhead that it kept coming out in my entries as I wrote them (so expect to see the Twins make an appearance soon). Also Doctor Who gets referenced a couple times (you’ll see on Monday). I can’t help it, I’m a geek! 😛 You gotta wonder though, what kind of warped mind it took to come up with that book?


  3. Mary B says:

    I don’t think I have ever heard of this book. And now that I’m older and have no children, I may find some good humor in the satire. Off to look for a copy….

    #AtoZChallenge #BOTB 1970’s Billboard Hits – A is for…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. writergrrrl says:

    I’m not quite sure what it says about my state of mind, but I love Edward Gorey! Thanks for sharing this… looking forward to seeing what else you have up your sleeve as this blogging challenge continues!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hilarymb says:

    Hi Christine – I’ve never heard of Gorey – what an interesting man and it looks like we’re going to be hearing much more about him and his ideas. Have you heard of “The Dreadful story of Harriet and her Matches” -we grew up with these stories … I loved them!

    Lovely – I’ll enjoy these .. cheers Hilary


    Today’s A – Z Challenge 2017 post

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ros says:

    I’ve never heard of Edward Gorey. Sounds like his book/s could be a good read 🙂

    Ros at Fangirl Stitches


    • Lorrie says:

      I have always enjoyed the irony that when Telescreens actually became a reality, they had keyboards, and worked I the opposite direction than they did in &q;;uu1984&qtoto! To think that what Orwell imagined would enslave us has perhaps saved us from it!


  7. molly says:

    Normally this would not be my kind of book. However… my son’s interesting sense of humor might find this a good read now that he is expecting his first child 🙂

    I look forward to connecting with you throughout the month!


  8. Argh, I LOVE Edward Gorey and this book!
    Neil Gaiman has done a somewhat similar book called ‘The Dangerous Alphabet’, which is also fantastic and wonderfully illustrated!

    Believe In Fairy Stories: Theme – Folklore & Fairy Tales

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll have to look Neil Gaiman’s book up on Amazon, we have a couple of his but I hadn’t heard of this one. He probably grew up reading Edward Gorey, it would sure explain a lot.


    • Jeanne says:

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      Liked by 1 person

  9. Mithila Menezes says:

    I didn’t know about Ed Gorey, so I googled him and read the entire article at Brain Pickings. It was macabre all right! I personally felt that a book like this would not only make kids more aware of the dangers in their surroundings, but would also help them remember things by engaging their imagination, and not just their rote memory power. I mean, A for Apple gets boring after a point of time. 🙈

    And of course, it’s a hilarious read once you get older. But kiddies are going to go to sleep with a torch after reading this book 😀

    I enjoyed reading your insight about this book! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m surprised I didn’t go to sleep with a torch after reading this book, and I didn’t find it till i was an adult! 😛 And yes, the old standby A is for Apple was boring for me as a child, so I can imagine it would be for others as well. If I had any human children (my kids all have fur 😛 ), I would definitely use this book to teach them their alphabet!


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