There may be nothing more peaceful than settling down with a child at bedtime to read them a story. Unless, of course, the selected book poses a significant physical or emotional risk to their well-being. Take a look at ten titles that had to be pulled from shelves before they could do any further harm.
1. A SINGLE DOG
It could be argued that children don’t need to explore the pros and cons of cannibalism until they’re old enough for video games. But a collection of poetry, A Single Dog, published in South Korea this past March, rushed that conversation: It featured several poems by children that parents found objectionable. One in particular, written by 10-year-old “Lee,” explored the merits of cutting out her mother’s heart and eating it:
Chew and eat your mom Boil and eat her, bake and eat her Spoon her eyeballs and eat them, Pick out all of her teeth Tear her hair out Turn her into lean meat and eat as soup If she sheds tears, lick them up Eat her heart last
Readers found the subject matter to be in poor taste. After first defending the collection as “art,” publisher Chulganil agreed to destroy the remaining copies.
2. BIG REX AND FRIENDS
A heavy metal used in products and building materials for decades, lead has been shown to cause serious health effects when ingested. (This is why you’re not supposed to eat paint chips.) Children are particularly susceptible to harm, which is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was vigilant in sounding the alarm over Big Rex and Friends in 2010. The dinosaur adventure story was a cloth-bound book that had a red dot sewn into it; the dot was found to contain what the CPSC dubbed “high levels” of the toxic substance. More than 200,000 copies of the title had been sold between 2004 and 2009; no injuries or incidents were reported.
3., 4., 5., AND 6. BABY’S FUN BOOK, BABY'S PHOTO ALBUM, CARTER'S IMAGINATION PICTURE BOOK, AND PICTURE THIS VINYL BOOK
Children’s publisher Kids II Inc. had the best of intentions when they issued a line of soft vinyl titles intended for infants between 2001 and 2004. Baby’s Fun Book, Baby’s Photo Album, Carter's Imagination Picture Book, and Picture This Vinyl Book all featured brightly-colored pages that would be perfect for developing young minds. The decision to include a mirror on one of the pages, however, would prove to be a mistake. Intended to amuse babies, the plastic reflective insert was found to crack and break easily, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, leading to four reported cases of cuts and one bruised finger. The company voluntarily recalled the titles and offered refunds to parents.
7. HELLO, CURIOUS BUDDIES!
It can be difficult to render something completely immune to the curiosity of a child: They appear programmed to taste-test everything. Still, Simon & Schuster was compelled to remove copies of Hello, Curious Buddies! in 2006 because the tiny felt ears and limbs of pop-up animal characters could be easily torn and chewed. The CPSC noted that “one child was able to mouth the torn material” but that “no injuries have been reported.” Parents were advised to clip the offending animal parts off and mail them in for a replacement.
8. AND 9. KITTY AND FRIENDS COLOR AND CONTRAST CRIB BOOK AND PUPPY AND FRIENDS COLOR AND CONTRAST CRIB BOOK
Every child loves to color. But what kind of negative associations could be made if they felt a sharp pain every time they drew outside the lines? Penguin Books was forced to recall two 1996 titles, Kitty and Friends Color and Contrast Crib Book and Puppy and Friends Color and Contrast Crib Book, when they discovered straight pins used in the manufacturing process had mistakenly been left in some copies.
10. HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE
No one expects to wind up on a ventilator for cracking open a book, but that could have been the fate of buyers of Hey Diddle Diddle, a cardboard-layout book based on the popular nursery rhyme. The center of the book contained a rattle with tiny plastic pellets inside; if the pellets became dislodged, they could be inhaled and cause recurring pneumonia or lung collapse that could lead to death. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and the book lasted only a few months on shelves in 1994.