The Bad Child's
Book of Beasts

Hilaire Belloc

Illustrated by B. T. B.

This web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide.

Last updated Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 15:20.

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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Table of Contents

  1. The Yak
  2. The Polar Bear
  3. The Lion
  4. The Tiger
  5. The Dromedary
  6. The Whale
  7. The Camel
  8. The Hippopotamus
  9. The Dodo
  10. The Marmozet
  11. The Camelopard
  12. The Learned Fish
  13. The Elephant
  14. The Big Baboon
  15. The Rhinoceros
  16. The Frog
Title page

Child! do not throw this book about;

 Refrain from the unholy pleasure

Of cutting all the pictures out!

 Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.

Child, have you never heard it said

 That you are heir to all the ages?

Why, then, your hands were never made

 To tear these beautiful thick pages!

Your little hands were made to take

 The better things and leave the worse ones.

They also may be used to shake

 The Massive Paws of Elder Persons.

And when your prayers complete the day,

 Darling, your little tiny hands

Were also made, I think, to pray

 For men that lose their fairylands.

Of Oxford

Evelyn Bell,
I love you well.



I call you bad, my little child,

 Upon the title page,

Because a manner rude and wild

 Is common at your age.

The Moral of this priceless work

 (If rightly understood)

Will make you — from a little Turk —

 Unnaturally good.

Do not as evil children do,

 Who on the slightest grounds


Will imitate the Kangaroo,

With wild unmeaning bounds:

Do not as children badly bred,

 Who eat like little Hogs,

And when they have to go to bed

 Will whine like Puppy Dogs:

Who take their manners from the Ape,

 Their habits from the Bear,

Indulge the loud unseemly jape,

 And never brush their hair.

But so control your actions that

 Your friends may all repeat.

Child is dainty

'This child is dainty as the Cat,

 And as the Owl discreet.'

The Yak

As a friend to the children commend me the Yak.


 You will find it exactly the thing:

Carry and fetch

It will carry and fetch, you can ride on its back,

Leading it about with a string

Or lead it about with a string.

The Tartar who dwells on the plains of Thibet

 (A desolate region of snow)

A pet in Thibet

Has for centuries made it a nursery pet,

 And surely the Tartar should know!

Then tell your papa where the Yak can be got,

Where a yak can be got

And if he is awfully rich

He will buy you the creature —

or else

Father and son

he will not.

(I cannot be positive which.)

The Polar Bear

The Polar Bear is unaware

Of cold that cuts me through:

The polar bear

For why? He has a coat of hair.

 I wish I had one too!

The Lion

The Lion, the Lion, he dwells in the waste,

He has a big head and a very small waist;

The lion

But his shoulders are stark, and his jaws they are grim,

And a good little child will not play with him.

The Tiger

The Tiger on the other hand, is kittenish and mild,

The tiger

He makes a pretty playfellow for any little child;

And mothers of large families (who claim to common sense)

The tiger again

Will find a Tiger well repay the trouble and expense.

The Dromedary

The Dromedary is a cheerful bird:


I cannot say the same about the Kurd.

The Whale

The whale

The Whale that wanders round the Pole

 Is not

Whale is not a table dish

a table fish.

You cannot bake or boil him whole

 Nor serve him in a dish;

Cut his blubber up

But you may cut his blubber up

And melt it down for oil.

And so replace

Oil for light

the colza bean

 (A product of the soil).

These facts should all be noted down

And ruminated on,

Be ruminated on

By every boy in Oxford town

Who wants to be a Don.

The Camel

"The Ship of the Desert."

The Hippopotamus

I shoot the Hippopotamus

Shot hippo

 with bullets made of platinum,

Because if I use leaden ones

Flatten 'em

his hide is sure to flatten 'em.

The Dodo

The Dodo
The Island

The Dodo used to walk around,

Dodo walking around

 And take the sun and air.

The sun yet warms his native ground —

The Dodo is not there!

Dodo is not there

The voice which used to squawk and squeak

 Is now for ever dumb —

In a museum

Yet may you see his bones and beak

 All in the Mu-se-um.

The Marmozet

The species Man and Marmozet

 Are intimately linked;


The Marmozet survives as yet,

 But Men are all extinct.

The Camelopard

The camelopard

The Camelopard, it is said

 By travellers (who never lie),

He cannot stretch out straight in bed

 Because he is so high.

The clouds surround his lofty head,

 His hornlets touch the sky.

How shall I hunt this quadruped?

 I cannot tell! Not I!

Hunting the camelopard

(A picture of how people try

 And fail to hit that head so high.)

I'll buy a little parachute

 (A common parachute with wings),

I'll fill it full of arrowroot

 And other necessary things,

Camelopard running

And I will slay this fearful brute

With stones and sticks and guns and slings.

Parachute and wings

(A picture of how people shoot

With comfort from a parachute.)

The Learned Fish

The Learned Fish

This learned Fish has not sufficient brains

To go into the water when it rains.

The Elephant

The Elephant

When people call this beast to mind,

They marvel more and more


At such a little tail behind,


So LARGE a trunk before.

The Big Baboon

The Big Baboon

The Big Baboon is found upon

The plains of Cariboo:

He goes about

With nothing on

with nothing on

(A shocking thing to do).

But if he

Dressed respectfully

dressed respectably

And let his whiskers grow,

How like this Big Baboon would be

Like Mr. So-and-So
To Mister So-and-so!

The Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros, your hide looks all undone,

The Rhinoceros

You do not take my fancy in the least:

You have a horn

You have a horn where other brutes have none:

Rhinoceros, you are an ugly beast.

The Frog

The Frog

Be kind and tender to the Frog,

And do not call him names,

As 'Slimy skin,' or 'Polly-wog,'

Or likewise 'Ugly James,'

Or 'Gap-a-grin,' or 'Toad-gone-wrong,'

Or 'Bill Bandy-knees':

The frog is sensitive

The Frog is justly sensitive

To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay

A treatment kind and fair;

Or so lonely people say

At least so lonely people say

Who keep a frog (and, by the way,

They are extremely rare).

Oh! My!

Oh! My!

This web edition published by:

The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005