Our Work is Our Play!
This week’s monster is an interesting fellow, as he’s a much more recent addition to French mythology. Le Croque-Mitaine, or “The Mitten-Biter” in a direct translation (and usually adapted to “Hand-Chewer”), is the boogeyman figure for French children everywhere.
Le Croque-Mitaine is an unusual creature. Often described as an ogre or goblin-type monster with terribly dry and flaky skin, he has exceedingly long arms and legs, near impossible distortions of what limbs should be, that can fold into incredibly small, cramped spaces. He has spindled fingers like bird talons, long and sharp and black, and he often uses them to make shadows on the walls to frighten the children he hunts, or to make skittering noises across the floor or closet door. He is deceptively quick – while a child might be distracted with the noises he makes with his claws, in the next moment he can snatch at their limbs.
There’s a very good reason why he’s known as “the Hand-Chewer”: whenever a child’s hand (or foot, or even nose and ears) is exposed from underneath the covers, he will leap upon them and gnaw the appendages off. And, if he is particularly hungry, he will rise from his hiding place, a mass of tangled limbs and filthy hair and a massive, hungry mouth filled with rust-colored teeth, glowing eyes peering down eagerly at its prey.
Then he will snatch their exposed limb and pull them down beneath the bed, into the closet, out the window – wherever he is hiding, he will drag the child into the darkness with him – and devour them, piece by screaming piece.
After all, a child’s downfall is its curiosity.