In October 2019, Barnes & Noble sold or marketed a satire of Donald Trump's presidency as a children's book, or placed it in the children's section of stores.
In October 2019, we received multiple inquiries from readers about social media posts asserting that that the Barnes & Noble chain of bookstores, along with other retailers, were not only selling a no-holds-barred parody of Donald Trump’s presidency, but marketing it to children in particular.
On Oct. 4, an Instagram user posted a photograph of the front cover of the book, which is titled “If You Give a Pig the White House: a Parody.” alltrumpgirl added: “BOYCOTT BARNES AND NOBLE AND TARGET for selling this in the children’s section!”:
Some Facebook and Twitter users condemned Barnes & Noble and the other retailers merely for selling the book, but others specifically characterized “If You Give a Pig the White House” as a “children’s book” or claimed Barnes and Noble had been shelving the book in the children’s section of the stores:
Absolute disgrace!! This book is being sold as a children’s book. Googled title and can be purchased online at: Barnes&Noble, Target, WalMart, Ebay, Amazon.
If You Give a Pig the White House: A Parody by Faye Kanouse , Amy Zhing (Illustrator) https://t.co/uyTm0kUz1T
— ForexBlueLady (@ForexBlueLady1) October 5, 2019
As of Oct. 8, Barnes & Noble did sell the book, both on their website and in stores around the country. However, it was placed in the humor section of stores, not in the children’s section, and the book’s publishers, MacMillan, described the volume as an “adult parody” of a well-known children’s book (and the book bears the descriptor “A Parody” on its cover). Therefore, claims that Barnes & Noble was selling or marketing “If You Give a Pig the White House” to children, as a children’s book, or in the children’s section were wide of the mark.
MacMillan released “If You Give a Pig the White House” a book by author Faye Kanouse and illustrator Amy Zhing, in the U.S. on Oct. 1, 2019.
MacMillan described the book as follows:
A coiffed and blustery pig has shoved his way into the White House! A cleverly worded and illustrated picture book, this is the adult parody of the beloved children’s cautionary tale, If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Watch in dismay as the presidential pig gets into trouble, binges on too much Fox News and fast food, and cavalierly threatens national security. If You Give a Pig the White House both lovingly caricatures the original children’s book and shows just what can happen when a greedy anti-hero tracks his hooves all over America.
As of Oct. 8, the book was being sold by Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Google Play, Apple Books, and on Amazon. Google Play and Apple Books both listed the book’s genre as “humor,” while Amazon placed it under the “parody” category. Walmart’s website listed it in the “politics” section of their “funny books” category. None of those major retailers categorized or marketed “If You Give a Pig the White House” as a children’s book.
Multiple social media posts in the early days of October criticized the Target general retail chain for purportedly selling the book and included what appeared to be a listing for the book on Target’s website. As of Oct. 8, that web page displayed the message “product not available” (although the Target website displays the same message even when the URL in question does not exist or never contained a listing for an actual item).
We asked Target whether they had ever sold “If You Give a Pig a White House,” but a spokesperson only stated “Target does not carry this item.” We made repeated attempts to press Target on whether they had previously sold the book before deciding to no longer offer it (and if so, why they dropped it). We did not receive any further response.
On their website, Barnes & Noble listed the book in the “humor” section, and that categorization was similar to the chain’s brick and mortar stores across the country. On Oct. 8, we contacted six Barnes & Noble locations across the U.S. by phone, calling outlets in California, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Every store we contacted had at least one copy of the book, and every store, without exception, shelved it in the “humor” section and not the children’s section. That data corresponds to a company-wide policy of marketing the book just as MacMillan described it — as an “adult parody.”
In the environment of a public book store, customers and browsing members of the public can sometimes pick up books from one section, leaf through them, and then place them in a different section. In this manner, it is possible that in some instances a member of the public might have left or spotted a stray copy of “If You Give a Pig the White House” in the children’s section of a Barnes & Noble store. However, this would have been an aberration, rather than the result of company policy or any attempt to market or sell the book to children.