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Grisly Children's Tales: No Damage Done

November 01, 2002

Re "Fe Fi Ho Hum," Commentary, Oct. 28: It's true that many of the German nursery rhymes and children's books are gruesome. However, having grown up in Germany with most of these stories, such as "Struwwelpeter," behind me, I don't think I am much the worse for it. I never did suck my thumb (as far as I know) and my children did not, either.

I feel that your commentary should have given credit to the person involved in Heinrich Hoffmann's story. The 19th century poem begins, " 'Konrad!' sprach die Frau Mama," a mantra I heard throughout my childhood, having been blessed with the same name. The name in German -- and in the rhyme -- is spelled with a K.

The complete poem can be found on the Internet both in German and English, translated by Robert Godwin-Jones of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Konrad Kingshill

Claremont

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