In Julia Donaldson’s latest children’s book The Scarecrow’s Wedding, the villain is a scarecrow named Reginald Rake and he smokes cigars.
The book is aimed at toddlers and a number of parents have complained about this story line in Amazon reviews. “Why on earth would a children’s book contain even the idea of smoking! Disgusting!,” complained one reviewer.
“Even though it makes the point that smoking is a bad idea, it makes me really uncomfortable to see any depiction of it in a children’s book,” wrote another.
“It feels like Julia is trying to get across an anti-smoking message (really? Do two year olds need this?!) but it just comes off as inappropriate and out of place,” said another. “Now my three year old is asking for cigars and a ‘smoke puffer’.”
Donaldson defended the story, pointing out the context of the behavior. “Reginald Rake is a villain who smokes a cigar and it is made clear that smoking is bad for you,” she told The Guardian.