Beatrix Potter into snuff, canings

In theory, I love the originals of all literature, nothing removed, nothing censored, exactly as the author intended.

Except when I find myself scrambling during a reading for an instant euphemism for, say, your father “was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.” Yup, it’s the classic, unexpurgated Beatrix Potter. Too hot for preschool. Stay on your toes.

One heavily edited version of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” I picked up years ago made no mention of that tasty dish, but also was rendered completely worthless and read like an unfinished Mad Libs: “Once upon a time, there were four little rabbits, and (insert story about Peter) … But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.” It was almost incomprehensible, but the pictures were very pretty.

However, even the quaint Potter illustrations can get a little too scandalous sometimes. The retiring author, who apparently was no stranger to the concept of rabbit pastries, also included a good smackdown in the other bargain book we scored this week, “The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.” It turns out it’s a bit of a sequel — Peter Rabbit 2: Showdown at McGregor’s.

And this Benjamin character is a bolder, bigger, badder, clog-wearing cousin of the original. Instead of Farmer McGregor, who famously “tried to put his foot upon Peter,” we get the even bigger and badder Benjamin Sr. opening up a can of cute-little-fuzzy-bunny whoop-ass on the rabbit tot:

Well, OK, then. There’s pretty much no way to hide that from a four-year-old. Next time, I guess I’ll just have to remember to Bowdlerize the bunny books. And serve the pot pie on a different night. –Jillian O’Connor

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