A Markham firm has been sent hopping to yank a Valentine version of the Happy Bunny book series after a mother complained of its "disturbing" messages.
Scholastic Canada Ltd. yesterday said it was responding to Tina Dale's objection after her daughter Emily, 8, brought home It's Happy Bunny: I (Love) Me Valentines, by Detroit author Jim Benton.
Some of the 36 pull-out stickers include references to "floating face down in a river"; "Wow! You're icky! Would some candy make you feel better about that?"; "I think you're the best. (The best I can do for now.)"; "I know how you feel. I love me, too!"
One of the worst examples cited by Dale is, "Let's be friends. We'll be the kind of friends who throw up a little every time we see each other."
The rascally rabbit's twisted terms of endearment are typical of Benton's award-winning Happy Bunny books, in which he repeats edgy, often sarcastic, mean-spirited terms he says are popular among today's 10-year-olds.
His website notes:
"Happy Bunny dislikes everybody."
The St. John's Telegram quoted Benton, a father of two: "It's all joke Valentines ... sarcastic and mean-spirited.
"Ten-year-olds routinely say things to each other like, 'I'm going to kill you if you don't get off those swings', " Benton, 47, was quoted saying. "They don't actually do it."
Dale told a reporter she ordered the $8 book from a catalogue Emily, who is in Grade 3, got at school but saw no warning about it being aimed at older children.
Founded in 1957, Scholastic, whose website describes it as "one of the country's leading publishers and distributors of children's books and educational materials in both official languages," says its Arrow Club flyer in January includes such a warning.
In a statement issued yesterday, the firm said its Arrow fliers are "intended for children in Grades 4-8 and is only distributed to teachers at these grade levels."