In the mid 1970’s John Burningham published a series of books on first experiences for younger children, with the titles The Rabbit, The School, The Snow, The Baby, The Blanket, The Cupboard, The Dog and The Friend. Each had a sentence on the left side page and a drawing on the right. When The Dog was published, one of the pages provoked furore from parents, teachers, librarians and the press.
One parent wrote: ‘Recently my four year old son was given one of your books for his birthday. It was called The Dog by John Burningham. On looking at the book we were absolutely disgusted at the contents of page 12 and 13. What a thing to put in a child’s book. I should’t have thought you would have printed such crudeness. What worries my husband and I is if this is what you put in the story of a dog whatever do you put in the story of the rabbits?’
The Dog was withdrawn from some libraries and schools under pressure from parents. A bookshop owner in Devon demanded to be credited by the publisher for a book returned by an indignant customer. A library found the offending pages had been ripped out. And Mary Whitehouse was quoted in the Worthing Gazette saying: ‘I think this section of the book which is aimed at four to five year olds is supremely unnecessary’.
‘I was damned if I was going to change the word to some childish euphemism. I had used correct English’
Pee, v.i. to urinate – also n. [For piss]