The Gashlycrumb Tinies may look like a picture book for little children teaching them their ABCs and illustrating each alphabet with nice pictures. Do not get it twisted though, this book is certainly not for kids. Not unless you want your toddlers scarred with the various ways they could lose their lives.
Written by prolific author and illustrator, Edward Gorey who is well known for other popular books like The Doubtful Guest, and the Headless Bust, as well as his award winning Broadway production of Dracula. Since its release in 1963, the Gashlycrumb Tinies has been delighting and scaring its audience for decades since its release with morbidly humorous illustrations and story telling. It’s an abecedarian book with a story that revolves around twenty six children (each representing a letter in the alphabet) and their untimely deaths. The book makes use of the dactylic couplet poetic meter to tell the story.
The Gashlycrumb Tinies is by far one of the more popular books by Edward Gorey. Critics have described it as a “sarcastic rebellion against a view of childhood that is sunny, idyllic, and instructive”, and “Part Tim Burton long before there was Burton, part Edgar Allan Poe long after Poe”. It’s unique black and white illustrations provide appropriately depressing visual images to accompany the dreary texts. The rhymes are pretty catchy too, if you can manage to get pass the morbid imagery, you might find yourself memorizing and singing along to “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs, B is for Basil assaulted by bears, C is for Clara who wasted away, D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh”.
Quite frankly, this might not be the best kind of book to buy for kids who are still at the stage of learning their alphabets, but if you have much older kids who you know are not easily offended or who like dark humor, then this would be a great gift for them. It would also be perfect for adults who can appreciate the darkness of the subject matter. At just 5.1 x 6.3 x 0.5 inches, though the hard cover book is small enough to fit in one hand, it can also work as a coffee table book.