Don’t look if you’re under 18 and American

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No wait a minute — DO look; it’s the only chance you get if you want to see a sample of the work of award-winning German children’s book writer and illustrator Rotraut Susanne Berner. American publisher Boyds Mills Press had planned to market a series of books by the author which follows certain characters — both children and adults — through the four seasons. But the plan fell through. While Berner was willing to remove smokers from the illustrations, she balked at more absurd requests: the nude male figure on a pedestal would not lose his teeny penis. After all, it’s less than half-a-millimeter long. And the portrait of a naked woman would stay too.

chb1.jpgShe might have considered putting black bars over the offending body parts, Berner told SPIEGEL ONLINE; that way, the reader would’ve been made aware of the censorship. But that seemed too embarrassing for the publishers, and they canceled all negotiations. American children have been spared from indecent exposure.

The funny thing is, the books don’t have any text and don’t need any translations. They are already bestsellers in 13 countries, and kids here in the US can enjoy them just as easily as kids in Japan. Barnes & Noble, for example, carries several of Rotraut Susanne Berner’s books, including the spring and winter versions of the offensive series. But if you want to order them for your kids, you better hurry up; soon, they may be verboten here…

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