Angry parents are taking to social media to blast Coles for its latest collectables campaign, claiming that their new range of books "promote violence" and contain "graphic imagery."
The miniature books, inspired by the Treehouse series by Aussie author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton, hit Coles stores last week. But while the pair have created 24-pocked sized editions for kids, some parents are saying the content isn't child-friendly.
"What is with your new mini books, What a disgrace," one person posted, along with a photo from one of the books showing a character getting strangled.
"This is a page from the latest collectible promo," another person wrote. "This is definitely not proper content for kids. Did no one from your team actually read the books before publishing them?"
"Totally inappropriate graphical content for a promo designed for kids," another echoed. "Three is definitely too young to see severed heads in their book, even in the context of imagination."
Coles Little Treehouse books / Facebook.
In a Facebook post, Coles responded to claims the stories weren't age-appropriate.
"We are sorry that you are offended by our stories. That was not our intent. We wanted our stories to inspire children to break the rules in their imaginations so they wouldn't in the real world. In our books, there are no limits, there are no rules and you can dare yourself to think of the silliest, most dangerous thing and there are no real-world consequences. This approach has proven to be a gateway to reading for many millions of children, both in Australia and New Zealand, and around the world."
But parents haven't just found fault with the stories themselves - others have complained about receiving multiple copies of the same book.
"Very disappointed in Little Tree house books," one person wrote. "Went through register I was given four books exactly the same what's the point?"
Coles new collectables / Facebook
"My brother and I got 25 today between our shops, at the same Coles store, and given there are only 24 books in total, one would think that we should have ended up with at least half of them right? Wrong!! As you can see below, we only got eight different books - eight out of 25!! That is disgusting. I understand that it is inevitable that there will be double ups along the way, but this is a joke!!"
In response, Coles reminded customers it was a "lucky dip" campaign and suggested swapping books with friends and family (being mindful of coronavirus restrictions.)
"Each Little Treehouse book is sealed in a non-transparent pack. Coles Little Treehouse as a campaign is modelled on a 'lucky dip' blind selection process, with this built in at point of production. However, you have the option to swap with other book collectors in your local store, but we would advise to follow any government advice within your state and area. We'll pass on your feedback to the relevant teams so they're aware.
But while social media has been running hot with complaints since the promotion launched, others have jumped in to remind frazzled folk that the books are free.
"Such is life," one person wrote. "Must be an OK life if all you're complaining about is free stuff."
"Best shopping incentive program yet Coles!" said another. "Thank you."