August 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

"Chocolate Factory" Cover Art Debacle

Charlie.jpgIt's not often that book jacket art makes headlines, but such is the case with Penguin UK's fiftieth anniversary edition of Roald Dahl's classic of children's literature, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The new cover art for the 144-page paperback, seen here at left, was unveiled on August 6. It has been called "creepy" and over-sexualized, and, honestly, it hard not to see "Toddlers & Tiaras" in this image of a doll-eyed little blonde draped in a pink feather boa. Sarah Kaplan wrote in the Washington Post, " was controversial enough that bookworms worldwide tore their eyes from their reading to register their outrage."

In an attempt at clarification (or rationalization), a company blog post notes that this new edition is packaged under the "Modern Classics" imprint, and its design should be more mature (as opposed to the whimsical children's editions that feature the illustrations of Quentin Blake). "This new image for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory looks at the children at the centre of the story, and highlights the way Roald Dahl's writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life, ready for Charlie's debut amongst the adult titles in the Penguin Modern Classics series."

Penguin releases the new edition on September 4. For a view of the various covers used for the perennially popular novel over the past fifty years, check out the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Facebook page. You can even vote for your favorite through Sept. 15.

Image via Penguin.