14 October 2008

Goodbye Moon

New editions of this 61 year old children's classic will have the cigarette photoshopped out of the illustrator's picture on the back cover. HarperCollins said it made the change to avoid the appearance of encouraging smoking.

Everyone can agree with that goal, but isn't this just a little bit too much? There's quite a difference between discouraging something and pretending it never existed in the first place.

After all, Bob 5chw4r7z has been known to enjoy a stogie on occasion, and that hasn't kept him from being a stand-up guy. And none other than Santa Claus himself puffs a pipe. The horrors!

"His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly."

This is just another example of political correctness run amok. Novelist and children's book author, Karen Karbo, carried it to its logical end in her NY Times Op Ed.

Others have added their two cents:

The spiked curtain rods are dangerous and could easily skewer Bunny. That clunky old telephone at Bunny's bedside is also a danger. Really, Bunny, if left unsupervised by the quiet old lady, could be brained by the heavy receiver or strangled by the cord. Replace it with a new lightweight cordless or, better yet, a wall-mounted monitoring unit that would also enable letting go the quiet old lady. Bunny's bed has no restraining rails. Bunny could roll out of bed and be seriously hurt. These should be installed at once.

Karen Karbo's suggestions, while excellent, do not consider Bunny's mental health. A close examination of the clock above the fireplace shows that the time is 7 p.m. at the start of the book. At the end of the book, the time is 8:10 p.m., indicating that it takes Bunny 70 minutes to fall asleep. It is concerning that the book implies that this length of time is acceptable. On the contrary, 70 minutes to fall asleep suggests that Bunny is suffering from undiagnosed and untreated insomnia. Suggested change: Digitally alter the clock so that the elapsed time is 20 minutes. Alternatively, add a footnote indicating that Bunny is seeing a sleep specialist or child psychotherapist to address the insomnia.


Anonymous said...

Here is an article by Roger Ebert that follows that same theme:


It's a bit over the edge, I must agree.

CityKin said...

The Roger Ebert article about smoking can be found here.

CityKin said...

I've never seen that picture of Clement Hurd before. I guess this picture is on the dust jacket and we usually lose those or just have the board-book version.

CityKin said...

Also interesting under Clement Hurd's wikipedia page it says he studied painting under Leger, which makes sense.

There is a term for airbrushing cigarettes tobacco bowdlerization

Matt said...

Yep, that's first pic I've seen of him too, and my wife reads that book to my son every night. Though, we have the board book version - no pics of the author or illustrator.

Interesting article. Reminds me of the transition in animation to all aspects of "political correctness" as well (ex: Disney re-releasing an edited version of Fanatasia, or WB discontinuing many of theirs, etc.)

Radarman said...

Garth Williams used to eat cheeseburgers.

E.B. White was photographed with martinis.

Somewhere on the internet is a picture of Laura Ingalls Wilder on a bike without a helmet.

WestEnder said...

Interesting tactic. I would have gone in the other direction and airbrushed everything except the cigarette.

Unknown said...

Unrestrained ridiculousness.
PS. You had me at amok. Luuuuuvvvvv that word:>)

DP said...

We have softback version (~10"x12") and it includes a picture of both Hurd (with cigarette) and Margaret Wise Brown (head shot, so I don't know whether she's got a cigarette too...).

We have a lot of my wife's old books from when she was a kid. I was reading one called "The Little Red Caboose" to my daughter the other day. It's kind of the "Little Engine that Could", except it's about the caboose saving the day. Anyway, the train is winding through these hills and mountains, and one page shows the train going past an Indian camp, complete with teepees. The book was reprinted in 2000 (avail on Amazon) - I wonder if it still includes this scene.

Mark Miller said...


I'm imagining a future "Antiques Roadshow" episode with a collector talking to your grown kid.

"We know your mother's book was printed in the last century by the cigarette in the illustrator's hand. That makes this a rare copy worth several thousand dollars."

Perhaps you better enshrine it in plastic for safety like we seem to be doing with everything else.