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Literature / Little Otik

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"I am an eater, and have eaten:
some grits from a saucepan,
a basinful of milk,
a loaf of bread,
my father and mother,
a girl with a wheelbarrow,
a peasant and a cart loaded with hay,
a swineherd and pigs,
a shepherd and his sheep,
and now will eat you too."

"Little Otik" (Czech: Otesánek) is a Czech Fairy Tale written by Karel Jaromír Erben in the 19th century. It has been collected and translated by John Theophilus Naake and included in his Slavonic Fairy Tales: Collected and Translated from The Russian, Polish, Servian, and Bohemian book under the title "The Long-Desired Child".

One couple of poor farmers have been wishing for children for years, but unfortunately to no avail. One day, the husband finds a strange, baby-looking log and brings it to home. To his and his wife's delight, the wooden baby -whom they call Otik- comes to life and asks to be fed.

However, Otik keeps demanding food -and growing- nonstop. After eating all of the food that there was in the hut, Otik swallows its parents whole. Then, Otik leaves its home and devours every person and animal it finds until it runs into an elderly farmer. The old woman rips its belly open with a hoe when Otik tries to eat her, and all its victims emerge out of its bulging stomach.

The old couple are happy to be alive, but they never again wish for a child.

John Naake's translation can be read in this link. It can be read in the original language here and here. You can read an audiobook here.

The story has been adapted to film.


  • Antagonist Title: The titular character is a man-eating monster.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After spending a long while wishing for a child, one couple are devoured by their adoptive child.
  • Big Eater: Otik eats several foodstuffs, seven persons, some horses, pigs and sheep, a wheelbarrow, a cart full of hay, and he was not yet satisfied.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All people and animals eaten by Otik are saved, but the married couple have become so traumatized by their ordeal that they stop wanting children.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The forest surrounding the village is home to hungry, man-eating wood monsters.
  • Enfant Terrible: Otik is an endearing-looking wood baby whose insatiable hunger causes it to eat people.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Otik progresses from eating food to eating people to eating inanimate objects, including a wheelbarrow full of clover and a cart and horses.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: One childless couple finds and adopts one strange wood-baby who ends up eating them whole.
  • Getting Eaten Is Harmless: Otik swallows six persons whole in a row. When an old woman farmer rips Otik's belly open, all its victims emerge out of its stomach, alive.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Otik eats anything, including humans.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: The couple who finds Otik had longed for a child for a long while.
  • Nameless Narrative: Otik is the only character who goes by a name instead of a descriptor.
  • Never Mess with Granny: After eating seven persons, Otik is killed by an old lady armed with a hoe.
  • No Name Given: Readers never learn Otik's parents' names.
  • Nursery Rhyme: Before each meal, Otik sings a nursery rhyme in which it lists everything and everyone whom it has previously eaten.
  • Plant Person: Otik is a sentient humanoid wooden log.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Otik eats its adoptive parents.
  • Shovel Strike: An old woman uses a hoe to kill Otik.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't wish for offspring or else you will be eaten by a baby monster.
  • Swallowed Whole: Otik eats six people whole. Later, when Otik's belly gets ripped open, they come out of its stomach unharmed.
  • Twice-Told Tale: It has been adapted to film.
  • Unexplained Recovery: All people swallowed by Otik get out of its belly alive.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Most of peasants seem to take the presence of a wooden talking creature in stride.
  • Wonder Child: One childless couple have been wishing for children for a long while. One day, the husband brings home a baby-looking wooden log which he found in the woods. The couple become happy when the baby comes to life, but their joy turns terror when the creature ends up eating them.