The Scarecrow’s Wedding by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler has garnered some criticism from parents for having an evil scarecrow who smokes. Evidently, it’s not enough that the bad guy is the one smoking, nor that the other characters actually say out loud that smoking is bad, but just the image of a cigar is enough to cause concern for children.
I have a copy of the book and wanted to see what the fuss was about. I must admit I was surprised at how clearly smoking was dealt with as something bad and then that even the bad guy doesn’t really successfully smoke. I’ve taken a picture of the page in question, and honestly it is just a single page in the entire book. This way you can make up your mind if it’s appropriate for your school, library or children.
I also appreciate the fact that the cigar is actually part of the plot. When it falls from Reginald’s hand, it starts a fire that is important to the progress of the story.
So what do you think? Should children’s books have smoking in them? Is it ever OK?