Penguin’s Lolita Cover

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Words by Billie Jenkins Image courtesy of Penguin

The latest cover Penguin have bestowed upon Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, has caused ripples of outrage through the literary, design and ’people who don’t like overly sexualised images of children’ communities. The publishers bizarre choice of image? A young blonde girl in full make up, wearing a sea of pink feathers and a vacant stare. Perhaps Penguin thought controversy was their golden ticket to book sales, they noticed Richard Prince did quite well for himself over the Brooke Shields scandal, and thought screw it. Or maybe they should sack the designer. Desperately searching for a reason as to why this particular image was chosen, you might start conclude that it is either a) supposed to make you throw up in your mouth a little, thus giving you a sense of the sickness the gorging children of the book felt, b) it’s Violet Beauregard or Veruca Salt. Yet this get out of jail free card was thrown down by design team, stating it was in fact no character from the book all but rather a representation of the ’twisted’ parent relationships it depicts. It’s true that this facet of the book is an interesting aspect of the story, yet surely the same as when film advertisers produce huge billboards bearing a superstars face and name, when in fact they merely make a cameo in the opening scene. What about Grandpa Joe’s loveliness, what about Charlie’s good heart? They’re going to have try harder than that if they want to cover up the fact even when it comes to one of the only children’s books on their classics list, they’re not forgetting sex sells.

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