‘The Green Ribbon’: Why the eff is this in a children’s book?

Jenny and her goddamn falling off

Jenny and her stupid ribbon = the root of all my issues.

Who else read In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, the so-called “children’s book,” when you were growing up? I read it for the first time in first grade after we’d ordered it from the Scholastic Book Club (a catalog I was always super excited about because — shocker — I was a huge nerd.)

One story in particular pretty much traumatized me for life: “The Green Ribbon.” In it, a girl named Jenny always wears a green ribbon around her neck. She meets a boy, they grow up, fall in love, get married … but she’ll never tell him why she wears the green ribbon. Until … one day … well, see for yourself:


AAAAAAAAACK! I still remember the first time I read that story: I screamed at the end and my mom cackled. (Yes, CACKLED. Thanks, Mom. That didn’t make it worse or anything).

It gave me nightmares for months. MONTHS. Sometimes, I wanted to be brave and would try to read the entire story without getting scared or screaming or closing my eyes when it got to the end, but that would just perpetuate the cycle of Jenny-induced nightmares. More than 20 years later, I still have to resist the urge to close my eyes as the story nears its fateful end and Jenny’s goddamn head falls off.

How the eff did this make the cut for a children’s book? (And why are any of the books by Alvin Schwartz considered children’s books?)

Also, was it really feasible for Jenny’s head to be attached to her body by a mere ribbon her ENTIRE LIFE? Was she ever worried that someone might sneak up behind her at a party and untie it as a joke? And her goddamn head would fall off in front of everybody? These are the questions that need answering.

On a slightly more positive note, I’m now considering coming to terms with my childhood fear by dressing up as her for Halloween:



5 responses to this post.

  1. […] ‘The Green Ribbon’: Why the eff is this in a children’s book? The year Thanksgivukkah was almost RUINED! […]


  2. Posted by Neisa on July 20, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Well the title says,”and other scary stories.” So I’d expect a scary story. 😛


  3. Posted by Jen jbuday on October 17, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Cool I would want to be her for Halloween.


  4. Posted by Tailor Hoyt on October 19, 2016 at 11:52 am

    So I was googling this story to try to remember the name and stumbled across your post. It freaking traumatized me too as a kid! I too, was at my Scholastic Book Fair in first grade. It was Library Time and my library teacher had the story on a cassette tape and played it for Story Time. I can remember being horrified and gasping while all the other kids just looked at me and giggled. I’m 27 and recently had a dream that I was Jenny and my husband untied my ribbon and then “Jenny’s head fell off.” You aren’t alone in your traumatizarion!


  5. […] naked except for Scarlett’s fairly stupid ribbon choker (if she takes it off during sex, will her head fall off?), when his phone goes off. “Is that her?” Scarlett says. Gunnar plays dumb, so Scarlett […]


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