Many parents who were driven to dark thoughts while being hammered by the relentlessly sunshiney drone of daytime cartoons or the you’re-ok-I’m-ok pap of many kids books appreciated the refreshing realism of last year’s Go The F*ck To Sleep.
And, of course, the late, great Maurice Sendak refused to excise life’s inescapable darkness from his children’s books, which made them classics.
Those who believe that kids can benefit from a, let’s say, less varnished take on daily life, take a trip to France with us, to the land of the achingly existential, hilariously dark children’s book.
As The Guardian notes, when author Jenny Colgan moved to France, she discovered the unusual French approach to kids literature, as exemplified by titles such as La Tete Dans Le Sac (The Head in the Bag, about a girl who puts her head in a bag), La Jour Ou Papa A Tue Sa Vieille Tante (The Day Dad Killed His Old Aunt, which is pretty self-explanatory), Chambres Noires (Dark Bedrooms) and the sublime Le Poids D’un Chagrin (The Weight of Grief, or Disappointment or Misery–whichever way, it’s fantastic).
Colgan has collected her finds on a blog and you can see a sample in the slide show above. (We’ve looked up a few of these titles on Amazon, so at least some of them appear to be real. To which we say: The Toes Have No Name.)
As Colgan notes, though, perhaps the most devastating volume is a simple look at the daily life of a small creature. In La Vie De Kuma Kuma, the fluffy little protagonist goes about an ordinary day–reading, eating, washing. The last page of the book reads: “I’d like to think that Kuma Kuma is happy…”
And on that note, pass me a cup of warm milk and a straight razor.