Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been given a “creepy” new cover by Penguin, featuring a young doll-like girl in full make-up.
The publisher has released the new sleeve to mark the 50th anniversary of the classic children’s book, but critics have attacked it as overly-sexualised.
The child is seen on the front wearing a pink bow in her long blonde curls, dressed up in feathers, mascara and bright lipstick. She stares blankly ahead while sitting on her mother’s knee.
The cover was chosen to reflect how Dahl embraces “both the light and the dark aspects of life” in his writing, a spokesperson said.
The child is not supposed to represent Veruca Salt or Violet Beauregarde, two spoilt girls from the book, but the “twisted” family relationships portrayed in the 1964 novel.
But authors and readers have been left shocked, with many suggesting the image would be more appropriate for Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, about a literature professor obsessed with a 12-year-old girl.
Novelist Joanne Harris tweeted her outrage at the design, targeted at an adult readership.
Seriously, Penguin Books. Why not just get Rolf Harris to design the next one?— Joanne Harris (@Joannechocolat) August 7, 2014
I'm not sure why adults need a different cover anyway, but who was it who decided that "adult" meant "inappropriately sexualized"?— Joanne Harris (@Joannechocolat) August 7, 2014
Penguin revealed the cover on their official Facebook page, after posting it without a title and asking fans to guess which "tasty tale" it belonged to.
Once the truth came out, people were quick to brand the design “pretentious and trashy”, “distasteful and disrespectful” and “terrifying”.
One Facebook user begged for a reprint, accusing Penguin of “destroying (her) childhood”.
Well, the new Charlie & the Chocolate Factory cover is weird & kind of paedophilic. pic.twitter.com/x6dm1gIFG3— Kayleigh Anne (@Ceilidhann) August 7, 2014
Dahl’s book follows the story of the delightful but impoverished Charlie Bucket, who finds a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s famed chocolate factory.
The new cover shot, by Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello comes from a French fashion magazine feature called “Mommie Dearest”.
Most iconic book covers
Most iconic book covers
1/12 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
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2/12 The Godfather - Mario Puzo
This 1969 cover art was produced by S Neil Fujita and became so iconic that the gothic typeface and puppeteer's hand were used as imagery in the film too.
3/12 The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel designed this cartoon for his own 1957 children's classic.
4/12 Fifty Shades of Grey - EL James
If this cover to EL James' first erotic novel isn't one of the most iconic sleeves of recent times, we don't know what is.
5/12 The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Salinger was known for being fussy when it came to his book designs. He liked them simple with the only words being his name and the title, like this one by E Michael Mitchell.
6/12 'Porno' - Irvine Welsh
DJ Design came up with this crass cover for Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting sequel that few book-buyers could walk by without noticing.
7/12 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
American jazz musician and designer Paul Bacon created this simple yet striking cover for Heller's novel. He is also the man behind the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Slaughterhouse-Five sleeves.
8/12 One Day - David Nicholls
Craig Ward designed this bright romantic sleeve for David Nicholls' 2009 novel.
9/12 A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
David Pelham came up with this famous cover ten years after A Clockwork Orange was first published in 1962.
10/12 In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
S Neil Fujita designed this crime thriller's sleeve using a classic typeface, a strong black border and a simple drop of blood. The drop was brighter at first but Capote asked for it to be made darker as time had elapsed since the murders.
11/12 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Illustrator Elmer Hader painted this by Steinbeck's request for his 1939 novel. He then created the cover art for East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent, too.
12/12 Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Edward McKnight Kauffer's powerful artwork represents the protagonist who is struggling to assert his identity in a world of hate.
Earlier editions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had used Quentin Blake’s iconic colour illustrations, which proved popular with readers.
These will still be included in the forthcoming Puffin ‘golden’ version aimed at younger readers.