From Horrible Histories to Babar the Elephant – the 'offensive’ children’s books withdrawn by libraries

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Post  guest... on Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:45 pm

Librarians have withdrawn children’s books from the shelves following complaints from parents that they were racist, or in some other way “offensive”.


For most parents, bedtime stories are a cherished and innocent time, featuring much-loved books full of comforting characters.


But for some, it seems, this nightly ritual is a minefield of potentially offensive and unsuitable material.


A survey of libraries has revealed how dozens of children’s books have provoked complaints from angry parents – accusing them of, among other things, racism, blasphemy, glorifying violence and poking fun at fat people.


The offending books include works by celebrated children’s authors, among them Roald Dahl, who is attacked for his use of coarse language in the books Revolting Rhymes and Even More Revolting Rhymes.


Even classics such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Nutcracker are not immune from criticism, in their case for being too scary and sinister.


Each complaint has prompted an investigation by library staff, and while they often defend the decision to offer the books for loan, in many cases, they end up agreeing with the parent and have removed the items from the shelves or moved them to another area, away from children.

A number were accused of racism, among them the children’s classic Babar’s Travels, in which the cartoon elephant flies off in a hot-air balloon on a series of adventures, including one where he encounters “savage cannibals”.

The book, written by French writer Jean de Brunhoff in the 1930s, was said to contain racist stereotypes of black Africans and was removed from the shelves by library staff in East Sussex.

It is now available only by ordering it from stock. Similar action was taken against Hergé’s Tintin in the Congo, by librarians in Lewisham, London.

Elsewhere, it has been moved from the children’s to the adult’s section. The book has been similarly criticised for its portrayal of Africans.

The children’s author who has attracted most criticism is David McKee, the creator of characters including Mr Ben, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and King Rollo.

Criticism centred on three books Tusk Tusk, about a dispute between black and grey elephants, which parents said was racist; Denver, which is accused of supporting wealth inequality, because the title character is far richer than the others; and Two Monsters, which features two bickering characters.

Readers objected to the aggressive language of their insults, which include “stupid peabrain”, “twit”, “dumbo” and “ignoramus”.

Mr McKee said he was surprised by the complaints and said his books were supposed to be inclusive and to celebrate differences in society.

“The picture book is the one book shared by an adult and a child,” he added. “I think the complaints seem to come from the parents rather than the child.

"Children often seem to get the point. It would be rather boring if all books simply started 'once upon a time’ and ended 'happily ever after’.”

Another book to be removed from the shelves was More and More Rabbits, a children’s story by Nicholas Allan book about two rabbits, Mr and Mrs Tail, who can’t stop having babies.

It is only when they sleep apart on the floor that they manage to stop.

The book has been praised by parents for helping to teach children to count, as well as assisting in gently introducing the concept of where babies come from.

However, librarians in West Lothian withdrew it after a reader expressed concerns about the content.

The popular Horrible Histories series – which has been made into a BBC television show – is criticised for “glorifying and trivialising violence” in its Rotten Rulers book, which tells of some of history’s most controversial figures, and how some of them met their end.

Painful Poisons, from the spin-off series Horrible Science is also attacked, as a reader felt it could encourage children to conduct dangerous experiments, such as sniffing butane gas.

Parents criticised several books for undermining children’s self esteem, among them The Big Ugly Monster and the Little Stone Rabbit, by Chris Wormwell, in which a lonely monster builds friends for himself out of stone.

The book is accused of suggesting to children that physically unattractive have a “toxic effect” on everything around them and their “their lives are not worth living”.

Similar remarks have been made against Flabby Cat and Slobby Dog, by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, about an overweight pair of animals.

The book was branded offensive and accused of giving a negative message to obese children. Librarians in Newcastle agreed and the book was removed from the shelves of the “health and wellbeing” section.

Others complained that children’s books encouraged bad manners and bad grammar.

One, Horrid Henry, by Francesca Simon, was accused of blasphemy after the title character uses the phrase “oh my God”. In that case, although library staff in Derbyshire decided to retain the book, they passed on the complaint to the publishers.

The survey involved 98 library authorities giving details of more than 300 complaints which they had received in the last five years about “unsuitable, inappropriate or offensive”. Half the complaints related to children’s works.

Among the others were some relating to Philip Larkin, the poet, and authors Michael Palin and Louise Mensch, now a Conservative MP, for their use of offensive language.

One of the most unusual complaints was from a reader of the Lonely Planet Guide to Eastern Europe.

The borrower thought that the 1,000-page guidebook was too heavy for travelling with. In response, the library said it would review its stock to see if it needed to bring in an alternative title.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9217615/From-Horrible-Histories-to-Babar-the-Elephant-the-offensive-childrens-books-withdrawn-by-libraries.html



If you ask me, some parents need a good slap!

Can't believe this to be honest, surely they don't have to borrow the books, and yet let lther parents decide if they wish to read to their children!?

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Post  Guest on Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:52 pm

Didge wrote:Librarians have withdrawn children’s books from the shelves following complaints from parents that they were racist, or in some other way “offensive”.

The offending books include works by celebrated children’s authors, among them Roald Dahl, who is attacked for his use of coarse language in the books Revolting Rhymes and Even More Revolting Rhymes.




When I last read Roald Dahl books to my kids I must have missed the coarse language....

James looked at the enormous peach and said, "Well f**k me!" Aunt Sponge was busy in the kitchen doing crack .....

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Post  Broken Arrow on Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:22 pm

Some parents seem to want their kids contained in a bubble and wrapped in cotton wool to protect them from the 'evils' of the world. Moaning about certain books is pathetic, the Horrible Histories were some of my faves as a kid, and Roald Dahl when I was eve younger. They are fun and in HH case very educational without being boring. A good slap is exactly right Twisted Evil
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Post  Flap Zappa on Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:22 pm

my guess is they are middle class vegetarian left wing parents who are too right on for their own good

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Post  guest... on Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:43 pm

I still don't get why the books are removed, why?

Surely other parents can decide if they wish to read these books to their children, sorry but I would tell the parents to sling there hook, what will be banned next Bambi, because the mother was shot and it is too violent?

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Post  Guest on Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:43 pm

Eilzel 2.0 wrote:Some parents seem to want their kids contained in a bubble and wrapped in cotton wool to protect them from the 'evils' of the world. Moaning about certain books is pathetic, the Horrible Histories were some of my faves as a kid, and Roald Dahl when I was eve younger. They are fun and in HH case very educational without being boring. A good slap is exactly right Twisted Evil

True. Both my kids have read all of Roald Dahl books and those horrible histories books. The terrible Tudors is my daughter's favourite!

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Post  Broken Arrow on Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:01 pm

Didge wrote:I still don't get why the books are removed, why?

Surely other parents can decide if they wish to read these books to their children, sorry but I would tell the parents to sling there hook, what will be banned next Bambi, because the mother was shot and it is too violent?

Some people are just too sensitive to being 'told off' by someone else, so rather than risk confrontation they may have just got rid. Suppose it is one of the many sickening side effects of what even I will admit is an often too PC society...

Sexy, love Terrible Tudors, Slimy Stuarts was the first one I read and I quickle had my mum buying me the odd one or two here and there lol!

I still enjoy the show now tbh, even though it is for kids, and the show they did at the Proms was outstanding and very funny Smile
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Post  Cass on Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:36 pm

OMFG...I just cannot believe this....as a librarian I find THEM highly offensive....who are they to moan and groan and deem what should be taken off shelves....if you don't want your children reading certain books then dammit go with them to the library and get them books that you "approve" of and leave alone books that you don't want them to read for whatever stupid reason you have. They have no friggin right to censor books for other people. They should just be on their hands and knees being thankful that their children are capable of reading and want to read. It is such a struggle to engage young people these days with all the mobile media in place so that when twits like these come along it makes it that much harder to get kids into reading and LEARNING.

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH for shame on this council for giving into this crap....I am so pissed now I need a break.
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Post  guest... on Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:28 pm

@Cass wrote:OMFG...I just cannot believe this....as a librarian I find THEM highly offensive....who are they to moan and groan and deem what should be taken off shelves....if you don't want your children reading certain books then dammit go with them to the library and get them books that you "approve" of and leave alone books that you don't want them to read for whatever stupid reason you have. They have no friggin right to censor books for other people. They should just be on their hands and knees being thankful that their children are capable of reading and want to read. It is such a struggle to engage young people these days with all the mobile media in place so that when twits like these come along it makes it that much harder to get kids into reading and LEARNING.

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH for shame on this council for giving into this crap....I am so pissed now I need a break.

Blimey did not know you were a librarian, sexy, hee hee.
Makes you laugh this and how people get away with such stupidity, I can understand people getting so annoyed over political correctness, especially when it is so over the top like this!

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Post  Cass on Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:26 am

Cheers lol!

Well honestly, some people..it's like the Nazi book burnings. If you don't like a type of book then don't bloody read it. I personally hate mills n boon but lots of my sweet old dears read nothing else and good on them. Just like Tv if you don't like it turn the channel or switch it off. Bloody fools. Sorry still upset by this.
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Post  Durham on Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:36 am

Flap Meister wrote:my guess is they are middle class vegetarian left wing parents who are too right on for their own good

Correct......

Although one complainant was in lewislum so perhaps it was Philup? She got offended over very little?
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Post  Hugh Jardon on Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:10 pm

@Durham wrote:

Correct......

Although one complainant was in lewislum so perhaps it was Philup? She got offended over very little?


As I have said...that thing was a self loather.
The very little that offended it was its teeny, atrophied 'penis'.
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