Edward Gorey,
The Gashlycrumb Tinies
or, After the Outing

(Peter Weed, 1962;
Harcourt Brace, 1997)

If Edgar Allan Poe wrote children's books, he might have come up with something like this.

Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a simple ABC book. Each letter gets a page with a verse of rhyme and a little illustration. But this, dear friends, is no ordinary alphabet primer! The pictures are drawn in Gorey's distinctive style -- stark, expressive, subtly amusing -- while the verses explicate the demises of 26 small children. Each expires in some grim fashion and, if lifted from the pages of the daily news, would be irrevocably sad. But Gorey is gifted with a devilish sense of the macabre, the same sort of funereal humor that made Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons so funny.

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Basil assaulted by bears. ...
Y is for Yorick whose head was knocked in.
Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin.

I'll leave the 22 pages in the middle for your own discovery. But, trust me on this, Gorey's Tinies is a delightful wee book that will appeal to the ghoulish side of children and adults alike.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 10 August 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.