Author: Edward Gorey
Genre: Horror / Fantasy / Sickness / Death
Year Published: 1963
Year Read: 2012
Series: The Vinegar Works #1
Content Rating: Ages 7+ (Depictions of Death)
Twenty-six different ways to die!
Now, I am no stranger when it comes to reading dark and morbid books for children since I had read children’s books such as “Halloween ABC” and “The Spider and the Fly” which were just as morbid. But “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” was one of the first children’s books I have read that is about several different ways for kids to die! “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” is a picture book written and illustrated by Edward Gorey and it is a book that will truly cause every reader’s hairs to stick up at their ends!
This book is basically set up as reciting the alphabet by detailing every child’s name that starts with the letters of the alphabet and how each child dies, such as one poem about a boy named Basil being assaulted by bears.
Now, the moment you see the image of a skeleton dressed in a black overcoat and top hat carrying a black umbrella and looming over several children on the cover of this book, then you will know that this book is no ordinary book for children. Edward Gorey has certainly created a unique and spooky children’s book that actually details how each child dies, which is a scary concept for young children and is usually not taken likely. I really enjoyed the simplistic way that Edward Gorey had written this book as there are mostly about eight to ten words per page making it easier for children to get a grasp on the concept of this book. I also enjoyed the fact that this book is used as a way to introduce the alphabet to children, just like how “Halloween ABC” introduced the alphabet to children in a morbid way. Edward Gorey had done an excellent job at providing a dark and horrific atmosphere for this book as the majority of this book is focused on different ways a child dies and I may sound a bit morbid myself when I say this, but I really enjoyed seeing all the different ways that the characters were dying in this book. Some of my favorite sentences in this book included:
“K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.
R is for Rhoda consumed by a fire.
Y is for Yorick whose head was knocked in.”
Edward Gorey’s illustrations are truly spooky and dramatic at the same time as the images are mainly in black and white colorings that truly give off the spooky feel of this book. I really loved the way that Edward Gorey made the illustrations have an Old Victorian feel as the characters seem like they are drawn into an old-fashioned horror film.
THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR SMALL CHILDREN!
Parents should know that this book is a bit too scary for smaller children since it details the theme of death and it explores different ways that the children in this book die. Now, the images are not as graphic as the text implies, although there is one image that details a young girl named Kate being struck by an axe and the image shows a little girl being covered in blood with an axe being embedded into her body. Parents might want to make sure that their children can handle dark imagery and themes in certain books that are considered too dark.
Overall, speaking as an adult who loves morbid and creepy books, “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” is a truly brilliant book that fans of books that are creepy and morbid will greatly enjoy for many years to come! Now speaking as an adult who is trying to figure out the right age set that this book should be aimed at, I would recommend this book to children ages seven and up since the theme of death would be a bit too scary for smaller children and it could easily give them nightmares for a long time.