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>One scary mutha

>I can’t remember how to link from within comments but yesterday’s post about over-controlling caregivers reminded me of Lucy Lane Clifford’s 1882 “The New Mother,” which I instruct you to read before bedtime:

“If we were very, very, very naughty, and wouldn’t be good, what then?”

Then,” said the mother sadly–and while she spoke her eyes filled with tears, and a sob almost choked her– “then,” she said, “I should have to go away and leave you, and to send home a new mother, with glass eyes and a wooden tail.”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Yes, truly the scariest short story I know. When I first read Neil Gaiman’s proposal for Coraline (and wanted to buy it but the higher ups at Harcourt didn’t get it!)I asked him if he knew that story and he did a fanboy squeeee. It was one of his chief progenitors for the book.

  2. >Yikes is all I have to say…

  3. Monica Edinger says:

    >New and Other Mothers Rule! Roger, I really think your newish photo needs a couple of button eyes. Go to and then to the Other Mother’s Workshop and you can have your pick!

  4. >I read “The New Mother” in a college course on children’s fantasy, and then followed up with Coraline later in the semester. I remember a lot of discussion about those glass eyes, the creepy factor, and childhood fears of dolls coming to life.

  5. victoria thorne says:

    >Read this last night. Couldn’t stop thinking of glass eyes all day today. Thank goodness did not follow link. Perhaps in a.m., if I am feeling far more brave in the morrow. Worried about wooden tail. Maybe I’ll wait…

    Hat tip to Jane Yolen on wonderful Neil story. Also stuck in brain all day. Loved the squeeee.

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