KANSAS CITY (AP) – A recent change in the photo of a well-known children’s book illustrator to remove a cigarette from his hand has drawn criticism from a Kansas City bookstore.
Pete Cowdin, owner of Reading Reptile, said he noticed the change about six weeks ago while selling a copy of “Goodnight Moon,” a popular classic written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd that was first published in 1947.
The photograph of Hurd published in the book for years showed him with a cigarette in his right hand, but in new copies brought out recently by HarperCollins Publishers, the cigarette has been digitally removed.
Cowdin, surprised by the change, reacted by setting up a Web site, www.goodnightreality.com, to protest what he says is censorship.
“This is one of the best-selling kids’ books of all time,” he said. “There are certain responsibilities and obligations on the part of the publisher as a steward – not just a marketer – to what I consider an archival document. To go in and do something like that is the pinnacle of arrogance.”
Cowdin makes an excellent point, but I wouldn’t call the alteration “censorship.” HarperCollins’ p.c. photoshopping is just plain silly. Take a look at the publisher’s defense of its digital vandalism:
The company defends the altered photo. Kate Morgan Jackson, editor-in-chief for HarperCollins Children’s Books, said the company contends the issue is about smoking.
“One of our responsibilities is to make sure we are publishing” the book “the right way throughout the ages and making it healthy for every generation,” she said.
How about shut up and publish, and leave the anti-tobacco zealotry to the ashtray cops?
Before and after photos of Clement Hurd via the NY Times:
Online poll at Goodnight Reality.
The Boston Globe editorialized last week: Unnecessary erasures.
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