Children are sweet and innocent (in most cases) and observe the world around them with pure eyes and minds. As they grow up, however, they lose their innocence, and there comes the day when they wake up as adults with corrupt and dirty minds. Where, in an abstract drawing, children will see two dolphins playing, adults are likely to recognize something a little more provocative. For grownups, any two words put together can instantly turn a seemingly innocent sentence into a cynical line. For kids, it’s quite simple – they see what they see and they don’t overthink it. The unsophisticated child perception makes it easier for the authors and illustrators of children’s books to get away with any text or drawing that adults might find inappropriate. Still, when the parent is sitting at the child’s bedside, reading her favorite book out loud, and they come upon a certain picture, they are like, “Wait… What?! Why am I looking at a rhino’s horn and see something else?!”
If this hasn’t happened to you, it’s time for a real eye-opener. Check out these 15 awkward illustrations from children’s books that can make every adult’s eyebrows raise.
15. Alice’s Privates On Display
This is not the first time Disney has created a commotion by using hidden or ambiguous images in its movies. You may remember the whole “penis” conspiracy about The Little Mermaid movie poster. This has probably been the most debated Disney screw-up so far. Supposedly, an artist working on the movie was fired, and angered as he was he decided to get back on the company by drawing a penis in Tritan’s castle. The phallus went unnoticed by Disney and soon kids from across the world started bringing home tapes with the animated movie. Because of the scandal the poster created, Disney had to come up with an official statement that the appearance of the penis in the poster was a pure coincidence and it was not drawn by a fired artist. End of discussion.
And here is another Disney goof that is far more obvious than the penis disguised in the background of the Mermaid’s poster. Parents must have been shocked again when coming upon this subliminal image of Alice’s vagina.
14. Who Gets The Most Action?
And you thought it’s boring to live in the countryside! Look how much fun the farm animals are having when people are not around to sheer, milk, and slaughter them. The story is simple but edifying. The chicken is trying to feed itself a juicy worm, but is having a hard time pulling it out of the ground. So, she asks the rabbit for help, but the two of them still can’t do the job. Soon the whole barnyard is standing behind the chicken helping her pull. If you were a child, you’d certainly want to also help pull out that willful worm. Of course, this nicely illustrated book teaches children about comradeship and solidarity. What did you think?!
13. A Rhino Horn Which Doesn’t Look Like A Rhino Horn AT ALL
This illustration by the much-loved cartoonist and author of children’s books Dr. Seuss is from the book ABC (1963). It’s a well-known fact that political messages are to be found in many of his books. All his life, he carried out his political struggle against fascism and social conformity through the means of satire, nonsense words, and crazy drawings. Actually, if you care to reread all these compacted Dr. Seuss books meant for children, you will soon come to the realization that there is much more than political propaganda going on in them. Most of the books are simply about sex. In the alphabet book, for example, you will come upon the picture of the young Rosy saddled on a red rhinoceros. Oh, come on, Doctor, you MUST have known you were drawing an erect penis and not a horn, right?
12. Poor Little Harpo!
You’ve learned since very early childhood that you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, and yet, in the case of Harpo’s Horrible Secret (1993), you can’t help but jump right to the conclusion that there is something very wrong going on between this little boy and his elderly friend who’s helping him fish by the lake. First of all, why is Grandpa standing so close behind Harpo? And secondly, what’s with the creepy toothless smile on his face? And then, the fishing pole in Harpo’s hands — is it only us who see it as a penis metaphor? Yes, it’s probably us because eventually the reader finds out that the little boy’s horrible secret is that his Grandpa has Alzheimer’s, and not a huge boner.
11. The Helpful Coach
And while still on the subject, here is an inspirational cover of a book about track and field techniques. We believe that the book is full of useful advice, but we are even more certain that with the type of coaching that’s illustrated, any young athlete would be encouraged to run the fastest they could. The most paradoxical thing about the book, though, is that the name of the author is the same as that of the convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. What is even more curious about this coincidence is that the guy, this child molester, served as an assistant college football coach throughout his entire career. It is not known what exact training techniques he was showing his players, but in 2011 he was arrested and charged with 52 counts of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15-year period.
10. Bad Bears With Tender Souls
Irving and Muktuk arrive from Yellowstone to a New Jersey zoo, which is going to be their new home. There they meet another polar bear, Roy, who fascinates them with stories about his exciting life outside the zoo. And because Irving and Muktuk feel bored, they decide to explore the life of freedom themselves, escape the zoo, and go in search of Roy and some muffins.
Or… the story can be read like this: Irving and Muktuk move from the conservative South to the progressive North where they can freely express their sexual orientation. They get mentored by Roy, who is experienced in this aspect and promises to provide them with as many “muffins” as they can handle if they follow his advice.
9. This Is How To Get Over The Trauma Of Castration
This instructive book is part of the Whitman BIG Tell-a-Tale series from the 1960s. The title is so absurd though that some people who have come upon this gem thought someone photoshopped another book by the author Anne Welsh Guy for the same series, Good-bye, Tonsils. But no, this is a real book and can be purchased for around $9.00. Actually, it’s quite difficult to get hold of the book, so if you happen to find a copy, it sure will be a rare find AND an excellent Christmas present for your kid if it has a puppy. As Good-bye, Tonsils acquaints children with the process of having one’s tonsils removed using simple, storybook language, so does Good-bye, Testicles — only the manipulation is different. Well, there’s a dog on the cover, and the procedure will most probably be performed on him, and yet, children must be mentally prepared… just in case, you know.
8. What Did You Lick INDEED
Dick has long ago ceased to be a conventional name. But even back in the 1960s, when the book was first published, someone MUST have found it funny that the wiener dog was named Dick. And again, we can’t help but unleash our associative minds when looking at the illustration. The naughty kid is feeding Dick HIS tiny sausage, and Dick cannot be any happier by how this situation turned out for him. Yes, we know children are blank slates and what they see on this cover is most probably just a boy secretively giving his food to the family dog. But still, aren’t they pushing it a bit?
7. A Sadistic Book For Kids Who Enjoy Gross Things
This one definitely deserves the Most Imaginative Title of (Any!) Year Award! And the story is no less compelling and imaginative either. The book comes as a sequel of Um… Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet, which tells the story of Falisha who flushes her annoying brother down the toilet. Understandably, her mother gets really mad at her when she finds out her other child is missing, and Falisha is compelled to go down the toilet herself into the Kingdom of Yuck to find him and bring him back.
As you may have already smelled, neither book is suitable for extremely squeamish children. But there is one very disturbing question the parents will probably ask themselves when coming upon the first book: How, the heck, did Falisha manage to flush her brother down the toilet? Was he the size of a goldfish? Or did she chop him into pieces first? But then, oh, such a relief! The kid turned out to be whole and well, as it was flushed for the second time in the sequel.
6. Give Aunt Bea A Kiss!
By now, you must have started seeing strange things everywhere: phallus-shaped clouds, tuna sandwiches that look suspiciously… feminine, and sexual predators lurking around every corner. And when you lay your eyes upon this drawing of the overwhelmingly loving Aunt Bea, your idea of “butter face” comes at a whole new level. The book where the illustration (and the poem it goes with) is taken from is called I’m Still In the Bathtub: Brand New Silly Songs by Alan Katz. What we learn from the text is that the seemingly harmless Aunt is actually an aging spinster obsessed with smooching and hugging little kids. Or this is at least what we learn from the protagonist.
“Ouch!” I yell/ I can’t flee/There’s no way/ to break free.”
5. The Boy And His Lamb In An Awkward Moment
Portrayed by David Duchovny, Hank Moody from the TV series Californication has a lot of theories of life and they all are an eloquent expression of his wild and enviable way of living. This also happens to be one of his famous quotes, and one can even get a Californication Morning of Awkwardness t-shirt online for $24.95. This is how much it costs to show that you are a Hank Moody’s keen fan and that you share his life view. But! Spending a night of love-making with a creature close to your heart is simply priceless! The author of this children’s book probably didn’t have the intention to encourage those who are in shaming relationship, but the drawing is somehow doing it in a very effective manner. The boy in the picture is still very young to be following the Californication series and Hank’s advice on how to live an exciting life on the edge, but it’s always better to start learning early.
4. Following The Suburban Idyll Model
According to the Urban dictionary, the phrase “soccer mom” refers to a “North-American middle-class suburban woman who drives an SUV, her kids are her ‘little angels’“, and she spends most of her free-from-domestic-chores time driving them to and from many after-school activities (not necessarily soccer). On the top of being maternal and multitasking, the stereotypical soccer “mommy” is …well, as this book cover suggests, a Barbie! A soccer mom simply CANNOT be negligent to her looks! She is sexy, slender, and underweight because she is constantly on a low-carb diet, and goes to yoga and salsa classes three times a week. What is the most outstanding characteristic feature of a soccer mom though is that she actively participates in every teen boy’s dreams. She is a kick-ass MILF after all!
3. Do You Want To Play With My– WHAT?!
Believe it or not, this children’s book got its illustrator, Santiago Elizalde, a national award! And the book itself is hilarious. The readers say it and the critics say it. Actually, some of the reviews are no less embarrassing than the title itself. Here is one, “It’s just the kind of book to make every member of the family vomit with glee. Go ahead, read it to the kids. They’ll love it, but won’t have a clue as to why you’re turning blue with laughter!”(Amazon). So, we guess one has to have
So, we guess one has to have the balls to start reading this book about playing with balls because one risks an agonizing death of suffocating. On the other side, though, the reviewers claim the book is suitable for all occasions: baby showers, birthday parties, and especially bed-time readings.
2. Plugged And Unplugged
We simply don’t know what to make of this one. Is it some kind of a twisted lesson in biology for young children, or is it just supposed to be funny? The rest of the book, intended for 3-year-olds, presents in a weird and very perplexing way, the boys vs. girls agenda. Just let us make it clearer for you: the elephant to the left is a boy, and the one without the cork up its butthole to the right is a girl. If you were a three-year-old, you sure were going to be confused by most of the illustrations.
In principle, it’s not a bad idea to start informing the children about gender differences when they are still very young, but sometimes this leads to creating banal gender stereotypes, such as: only boys can be President, and only girls can have long hair. And now, with this book, what are we learning, that boys have a more controllable bowel movement than girls?!
1. Exercising In D-Beating
We end our walk through the amazing world of children’s literature the way we started it – with a notion that adults’ minds are all distorted and degraded. That’s why we already know what you are thinking right now – this book must be about a small boy’s first embarrassing experience in jerking. And judging by the kid’s despair, his fingers are all thumbs when it comes to beating the D. But here comes the revelation – the book is, in fact, about Horatio (obviously) who has difficulty reading and is sure that other kids think he’s dumb. His parents meet with the teacher to find out that their son has a reading disorder. The “D” here stands for dyslexia. Fortunately for little Horatio, his story has a happy ending – he works hard with his Special Ed teacher and achieves amazing results. Everybody’s happy and cheering for Horatio.