RARA-AVIS: Noir kiddie lit

From: Doug Hoffman, MD ( hoffmand@cc.northcoast.com)
Date: 26 Mar 2002

The recent thread on cross-genre noir/hb (science fiction and fantasy) got me to thinkin... What would the cross-genre examples be for other genres?

How about children's literature? I could only think of one example, and that one is obscure: Julia Cunningham's _Dorp Dead_ (yes, that's how it's spelled), about an orphan who comes under the sway of a rather sinister guardian. There must be other examples (more 'popular' ones than _Dorp Dead_), but I'm at a loss.

Of course, most fairy tales in general (and the brothers Grimm in particular) are very dark, as are most of Roald Dahl's books. For example, consider _The Witches_, which was made into a very good movie with Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch. At the story's end, the boy (who remains a mouse--no reprieve, as in the movie) and his grandmother make plans for the genocide of witches everywhere (this was dropped for the movie). In _James and the Giant Peach_, James' evil aunts are crushed to death by the peach (again, this gets watered down in the movie)... but the story becomes too lighthearted after that.

Oh! I thought of another good one: _There's a Hair in my Dirt_, by Gary Larson. (The cartoonist.) If you can find a copy of this gem, buy it!

Doug Hoffman

(always looking for suitable reading material for my very dark 6-year-old)

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