Friday, November 18, 2005

Goodnight Moon—Now Smokeless!

[NYT link] In the great green room, there is a telephone, and a red balloon, but no ashtray. "Goodnight Moon," the children's classic by Margaret Wise Brown, has gone smoke free.

In a newly revised edition of the book, which has lulled children to sleep for nearly 60 years, the publisher, HarperCollins, has digitally altered the photograph of Clement Hurd, the illustrator, to remove a cigarette from his hand.

Some bookstore with nothing better to do or be pissed about has even started a protest website (I should note the cow with the cigarette is pretty funny).

I don't want to add to the bogus "controversy" surrounding this non-story except to point out my personal connection...

Sometime during my three-year-old daughter's life, I remember pointing out this photo to my wife and remarking how society has changed in its acceptance of smoking, and that a children's book contributor would never pose with a cigarette, and it certainly wouldn't be published. My wife laughed at me and insisted it was his pencil ("He's an illustrator!").

The only big deal here is my vindication that it was a cigarette in his hand...I win!

In my personal (and professional—I'm an art director) opinion, this photo should have been replaced or re-cropped, not altered. But, I have no problem with the desire/motivation to ditch the smoke. I can understand some minor uproar from the traditionalist bookstore set, though comparisons to Stalin at the website above are, frankly, preposterous.

Oh, and this will sell HarperCollins a lot of books. Collectors will scramble to snap up originals, and the free publicity for the 60th Anniversary from this story will sell the new ones.


Elizabeth said...

What a shame about the picture. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll.

Brett said...

Re-writing history is never a small matter. It might not be starting big, but it will get there, once it's an accepted technique.

Anonymous said...

They should have just used another picture. And from various news articles and comments from Hurd's son (who did grant permission for the edited photo, but thinks it looks weird), it sounds like they're planning to do that. But the photo-shopping is murder crowd needs to get a grip. Kids who get their senior pictures taken professionally and opt for the air-brushing are "re-writing history" too, but are these 17-yr-olds Stalins in training, too?

Mr Furious said...

"Kids who get their senior pictures taken professionally and opt for the air-brushing are "re-writing history" too, but are these 17-yr-olds Stalins in training, too?"
[chuckle] Good one.

Hurd's family should have supplied a different photo. If ole' Clement was puffing away in every shot that's a problem, and they could have cropped it tighter. Since it had been in circulation for decades and has a historical and cultural place, changing the photo should have been a last resort, but it is hardly the end of the world.

ORF said...

Yeah, I was wondering myself why they didn't just crop the photo. It would have been easy to do.