Student Question

Can you summarize "The Story of Fidgety Philip"?

Quick answer:

"The Story of Fidgety Philip" is about a boy who can't sit still and ends up falling off his chair as a result. Designed as an educational story for children, its aim is to put children off fidgeting.

Expert Answers

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"The Story of Fidgety Philip" is a story within the German children's book Der Struwwelpeter. It was written by Heinrich Hoffmann and it was published in 1845. In this book, Hoffmann wrote short educational stories intended to help parents to bring their children up and to help with behavioral issues. Hoffmann's main aim was to scare children through his stories so that they would stop misbehaving as a result. This is why the stories in this book describe worst-case scenarios for typical misbehavior found in children in a very graphic and scary way.

"The Story of Fidgety Philip" is one of these. Just like the other stories, it is written in rhyme, as Hoffmann believed that this would help children to remember the stories and their message better. The story is aimed at children who can't sit still and who swing on chairs. Through the story of Philip, Hoffmann is hoping to persuade kids to not behave in a similar way.

Philip is having dinner with his parents. However, he can't stop fidgeting and swings on his chair. His parents are getting increasingly angry about this:

Philip! I am getting cross!

Philip, however, does not stop swinging on his chair. Instead, he keeps vigorously swinging on his chair until he finally loses his balance. His chair tumbles backwards and Philip falls off the chair. He desperately tries to cling on to the tablecloth, hoping this would save him from falling. However, this makes matters even worse, as Philip ends up pulling the whole tablecloth off of the table. He ends up on the floor, covered in food, plates, cutlery and the table cloth, whilst his parents look on aghast.

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