Fans of both the book and the movie are in a tizzy over Penguin’s latest move to cover the now 50-year-old classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with a bizarre image, which they revealed on Wednesday. The book by Roald Dahl is currently being published as a Penguin Modern Classic this month and is now sporting a new cover that has been deemed more adult.
The cover is creepy, eerie, slightly unsettling, and many are complaining it doesn’t match the message or themes of the book at all. The image is an actual photo taken from a French fashion magazine feature that was called “Mommie Dearest”.
According to the Penguin UK blog post, this cover is supposed to recognize the book’s “extraordinary cultural impact” and looks at the relationship the children and their parents have. They also say the cover highlights how well Dahl looks at both light and dark in his work.
However, the public isn’t seeing it that way. They called the cover and the little girl “sexualized” and that the cover is “pedophilic.” Many complaints are that it ruins the childhood perception of the book and movie, and as “Chocolat” author Joanne Harris asks, “Why not just get Rolf Harris to design the next one?” For background, in June of this year, Harris, a former entertainer, was found guilty of 12 charges of indecent assault of girls between the ages of 8 and 19. That’s one way to get a point across.
But more than being sexualized, the girl is being made into an object. She has the appearance and dead eyes of a doll. Penguin UK’s blog says the cover is meant to look at the children in the book, however, we never deal with Veruca Salt’s or Violet Beauregarde's mothers, we only see their fathers. The Independent reports that the girl isn’t meant to directly represent either girl, but the “twisted” family relationships that take place in the book. Can’t wait to see how the French fashion magazine and photographers react to that glowing review of their photo.
The image isn’t necessarily inappropriate. But this cover doesn’t celebrate what this book’s 50-year existence has brought to so many people. As many have said, it’s “ruining” their childhood. It seems like Penguin was trying so hard to draw in a new crowd to what they admitted is one of the only children’s books to be published as a Modern Classic that they’ve completely forgotten who (what?) made it a classic in the first pace.
Its unlikely they’ll change the decision they’ve already made about this cover, but with this outrage, they’ll likely never try it again.
Check out some of the feedback on Twitter in the list, including more from Joanne Harris: