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Where’s the Weenie?

Or wiener, as the case may be.  What am I talking about, you ask? Well, U.S. publisher Boyds Mills Press would like German children’s book illustrator and author Rotraut Susanne Berner to hide her shame. Or rather, to hide their own shame and cowardice.

The details: this morning, while browsing the German online magazine Spiegel, the following headline (well, in German but you get the idea) caught my eye: Micro Penis excites US Publisher.
So, according to Der Spiegel online, the story is that there is a well-known and internationally renowned German illustrator of children’s books (Frau Berner) who has published a series of picture books about the changing seasons as reflecting in busy city and landscapes – the drawings are sort of like the Where’s Waldo ones in that they are full of objects and people and things and such, very busy visually. A U.S. publisher, Boyds Mills Press according to Der Spiegel, expressed interest in publishing these books in the States, which is a huge deal for the German publisher and the illustrator/author because this almost never happens. Except that the U.S. publisher, sort of shame-facedly, mentions that there is one tiny caveat. Could she please redraw these two things in the books? Not a big thing, really, but Boyds Mills would feel more comfortable and it’s not for the Press so much as for any parents who might object, you see.

Here’s the illustration they wanted Frau Berner to alter:

Berner’s illustration

The illustration, set in a museum, shows a painting of a nude woman and, way in a corner, so tiny you’ll miss it unless someone rubs your nose in it, there’s a small nude male sculpture. See it there? Look more closely. Like I said, tiny. But this could upset American parents, kids, and so Boyds Mills Press would like the Germans to change this.  Preventatively, to avoid protests.

These books have been published in countless other countries without issues but please, not in the U.S. with the nudity. The author refused. She would be ok with putting black bars over the offending parts, to show the censorship clearly, but she refuses to self-censor and make it invisible, just because the publisher is afraid of the U.S. parents and their possible response.

Ah, America, land of the free.

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