Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People

At some point in our lives, we read children’s books. Perhaps they were read to us, but the very nature of a “children’s book” conjures up clean white pages with simple stories and often beautiful illustrations. 

Later on, we move away from children’s books. We put away anything remotely childish like a picture book, and we start reading for school. It’s the stuff without pictures and often without an interesting cover. If that didn’t kill your love of books and you’re among those of us still reading, you’re probably as far away from picture books as ever – unless you’re reading to your own child, nieces, nephews, or a friend’s kid. 

But what if, there was a picture book, a children’s book, as I described earlier, with simple words and stories, clean white pages, and beautiful illustrations, but it was for adults?

Let me introduce you to Box of Pain Presents: Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People by Douglas Coupland and Graham Roumieu. If there’s more of this subgenre out there, whatever it’s called – “children’s books for adults”? – I’m ready for so many more.

This book contains a few short stories, all with colorful characters that are not for children: 

  • Donald, the Incredibly Hostile Juice Box
  • Sandra, the Truly Dreadful Babysitter
  • Hans, the Weird Exchange Student
  • Brandon, the Action Figure with Issues
  • Cindy, the Terrible Role Model
  • Kevin, the Hobo Minivan with Extremely Low Morals
  • Mr. Fraser, the Undead Substitute Teacher

These characters and caricatures are entertaining in their appalling natures, laughable in their languishing, and definitely not for young people. I’m almost surprised that the creators didn’t hide the anagram of a dirty word among the initials of its strange subjects.

The inside dust jacket reads, “Inside, please find… Seven pants-peeingly funny stories featuring seven evil characters you can’t help but love: Douglas Coupland’s stories are illustrated with dark charm by Graham Roumieu in a collaboration that brings together two of Canada’s wittiest creators for the first time. Put your therapist on speed dial and read them with pleasure.”

This doesn’t explain why or how this came to be, but it is still a thrill to behold and will absolutely brighten your day. My one suggestion would be to read the stories over a week, parsing them out one per day to let the book simmer. A binge-reading in a single afternoon is just as enjoyable, but it doesn’t last as long.

Are there other “children’s books” for adults? There have to be, right? As this was my introduction to the concept, I absolutely love the idea and the execution from Coupland and Roumieu.