Pumpkins (children's book)

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Date: 2004

Region: North America

Subject: Religious

Medium: Photography Literature


Artist: Ken Robbins – author and illustrator of more than 25 popular children’s books

Confronting Bodies: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (S&S BFYR)

Dates of Action: 2004

Location: New York, NY USA

Description of Artwork: The piece in question is a photograph of a child dressed as a witch for Halloween from Ken Robbins' picture-book entitled Pumpkins.

The Incident: According to Ken Robbins, as Pumpkins was about to go into production in 2004, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (S&S BFYR), who was the original publishing house for the book, requested that the author/illustrator remove an image in the book that depicted a child dressed as a witch for Halloween. Robbins’ editor mentioned that in-house design and marketing people felt that a different image – one of pumpkin pie – would be better for the book. Robbins disagreed and stood his ground, demanding that the picture in question remain in the book. Eventually Robbins discussed the matter with S&S BFYR president Rick Richter, who explained that the publishing house would not publish the book in light of potential objections in the marketplace, namely from the religious right.

Results of Incident: In July 2005, after Robbins decided to take the project back from S&S, he contacted Neal Porter at Roaring Brook Press. Roaring Brook Press agreed to keep the picture of the child dressed up as a witch in the book and Pumpkins went into production in the summer of 2005, scheduled for release in August 2006. By December of 2006 the book had sold 20,000 copies with no backlash from the religious right.

Source: Publishers Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/print/20061120/4759-witch-scares-off-s-amp-s-.html