A Biff, Chip and Kipper children’s book has been pulled from the shelves
Oxford University publishers have apologised and pulped the Oxford Reading Tree book, which is a part of a collection of books used to encourage children to read in classrooms across the UK. The book – The Blue Eye – published in 2001 by Roderick Hunt sees the two children go on an adventure in a marketplace in a foreign land, which appears to be in the Middle East.
It has now been deemed inappropriate after it described characters in the book – perceived to be Muslim – as “unfriendly” and “scary”.
Social media users took to Twitter to express their disgust, and claimed the book encouraged children to be racist and Islamophobic.
English teacher Sherish Osman posted: “Just seen this being shared on Facebook. Wow, am I right to think this is inappropriate?!
Oxford University publishers apologised
“What else makes me uncomfortable is teachers who claim to see nothing wrong with this, and continue to expose our children to it, not realising the damage they are causing.”
Canadian think tank Anti Bias Curriculum Project said it was “disgusting”, tweeting: “Racism is taught and this is a clear example of how not only do parents have a responsibility to prevent their children from being racist, but educators too.
“Disgusting how this was even allowed to be published or even put into children’s bookshelves.”
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The book – The Blue Eye – was published in 2001 by Roderick Hunt
The book is about the adventure of Wilf and Biff who are told by a princess named Aisha, she cannot be Queen in her homeland without a magic blue crystal, The Blue Eye.
In the book, a group of angry men, wearing white robes and turbans with glasses and facial hair, chase her for the magic gem, and the princess describes them as “dangerous”.
While another page in the book shows a group of male shoppers, wearing robes and headscarves, and a woman wearing a niqab and a headscarf, to which the protagonist, Biff, looks on and says: “The people don’t seem very friendly.”
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A spokesperson for Oxford University Press confirmed the book was pulled off the shelves last month and is no longer available to buy.
The publishers said they regularly make changes to their titles to ensure they are “up-to-date, diverse, inclusive, and reflective of the world we live in”.
They said in a statement: “The title in question – The Blue Eye – was originally published in 2001 and amended in 2012; the last sentence of text on the page in question was changed to read: “It would be easy to lose each other in such a crowded place.
“The book was then taken out of print completely in March this year, following an independent review, and is no longer available to purchase.
“OUP destroyed its own remaining stock of the book, although a small number of copies may still remain in the supply chain; some older titles may still be available in libraries, or as second-hand copies.
“At OUP, we regularly review and make changes to our list of titles to ensure they are up-to-date, diverse, inclusive, and reflective of the world we live in, and we take steps to remove any products that are no longer appropriate from our collection.
“We also continuously listen to feedback from our customers, and we take our responsibility to learn and improve very seriously.”