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“The Story of Little Kettlehead;An Awful Warning to Bad Babas”, or”The Story of Little Degchie-head”

We have provided the full story now here

By Helen Bannerman

Here is another extraordinary Bannerman story that would outrage the politically correct today. Some extracts are reproduced below.



Once upon a time there was a little who lived in India, and her name was Mary.

And she was fond of poking fires.

Here is a wonderful story that has been long forgotten. It was an instant hit with my son, aged 4.Mary clearly lives in India. She is always poking fires. Her mother scolds her and pulls her away. One day while here mother is attending to the servants, Mary runs to the cook-house and beings poking the fire joyfully.
But the cooking places were very high up, and she could not reach them properly, so she pulled forward a big kettle, in which the cook boiled the hot water.
She is then able to poke the fire splendidly, “and she was very much pleased.”Then she falls over and her head was burned right off!!

How frightened Domingo (the cook) was when he found a “Missy Baba” with no head lying in his kitchen.

He picked her up, and sets her on her feet.
He pops the kettle on her head, and ties on her bonnet to keep it firm.Then he draws the best eyes, nose and mouth he can.
And sent her back to her mother.
[And doesn’t Little Kettle-head look grand!]She hides from her mother and father, and does a lot of crying.

And the only sound she makes is, “Clip – clap – clapper – apper – apper”.

On Christmas Eve, Father Christmas leaves her a doll’s head from a broken doll.

She got up at once, holding it carefully in both hands.
She carries it to the looking-glass, then fetches a gum-bottle, and sticks on her new head.
And sat very still and quiet till the gum was quite hard.
When she re-unites with her mother and father, they comment that her hair has grown a yard in one night.And she never goes near fires again.

A grave warning indeed for all naughty children.

We don’t know whether she lives happily ever after, but we are told that her head is never burned off again.


The Story of Little Kettle-head (1904) – by Helen Bannerman



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