Some kids’ entertainment is outright frightening, books and movies like Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Coraline; the former is about a psychotic candy seller who seemingly kills kids who disobey his rules; the latter follows a little girl trying to survive a dream world where her parents have buttons sewed into their eye sockets. The intention of such titles is to unsettle, even if the scares are geared toward the pre-teen set and are concealed by happy-go-lucky storytelling. But you know what’s even more disturbing than children’s books designed to upset? Ones written by authors who don’t even realize what they’re doing subconsciously.

When the almighty Dr. Seuss first wrote The Lorax in 1971, he did so with the goal of providing younger readers with a lighthearted romp about a jolly orange creature, with a save-the-planet, ecological subtext. But what Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel was really doing was turning kids’ future walks in parks and rounds of playing outside into potential horror shows—don’t stand too close to a tree, unless you want a freaky little troll with a bushy moustache to recycle your soul.

Are we looking too hard at The Lorax? We’ll let the youngsters who gain all-new psychological imbalances thanks to the movie version of Dr. Seuss’ classic book (in theaters this Friday, featuring the voices of Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, Ed Helms, and Danny DeVito) give that answer. In the meantime, let’s delve even deeper into not-yet-adult nightmares with The 10 Most Unintentionally Terrifying Children’s Books, old favorites that are even more unexpectedly chilling than The Lorax.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)

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