A friend posted a most unusual photo on Facebook today: it’s a gravesite in a cemetery, but in front of the headstone, there’s an iron “cage” of sorts. The cage is sunken into the ground on all sides, and through the iron straps, you can see where grass has been growing, protected from mowing for many years.

Accompanying the photo is the caption, “I’d like to know the back story….”

I very much wanted to make a joke about it being the burial site of a vampire, zombie, or other undead creature, but I was curious and started googling.

This appears to be a mortsafe. Basically, a cage intended to make it difficult for anyone who might try to disturb the grave (apparently there was a lively trade in corpses for sale to medical schools). Normally, they were only left in place for six to eight weeks until the body had decomposed and would no longer be in a state to be saleable. This one appears to have been left longer.

Probably because that’s where they buried a vampire, zombie, or other undead creature.

The Wump World

The Lorax is probably the first book that comes to mind when people talk about children’s books which touch on environmentalism and preserving nature for future generations. And I have no complaint with that. Doctor Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel) wrote a powerful story, which connected with kids quite well.

But for me, I also remember The Wump World. I couldn’t have been much past first grade when I first read the tale of these gentle creatures and how their world was overrun. I can’t be certain, but this was likely also one of my first introductions to the science fiction genre as the Pollutians came to the Wump World in what were clearly spaceships.

Out of the blue, a friend recently asked if I’d ever heard of the wumps and after checking that we were talking about the same thing, I felt compelled to revisit the Wump World.

Although the book is 44 pages long, it’s worth noting that every page is also illustrated with a color, pencil-drawing. It’s a fast read for an adult and given that it’s stuck with me for more years than I wish to recount, it seems a reasonable kid-length.

The story tells of the Wumps and how their idyllic existence is one day interrupted by the arrival of “The Pollutians” (to an adult, the name is hardly subtle, but as a child, I scarcely noticed it). It’s a dismal life for the Wumps, but much as with The Lorax, there’s a hopeful ending.

So yes, get the kids hooked on The Lorax, but don’t forget to visit The Wump World too.