This book, based solely on its cover, looks innocuous:
But all copies of the book have been removed from all public libraries for a review after a Facebook user alleged that it’s racist.
NLB had said, “This will be done in consultation with our Library Consultative Panel, which is an independent and citizen-based panel. In line with our established procedures, we have removed all copies of the book from our libraries during the period of review.”
Before the review is done, the publisher is doing something about it.
Marshall Cavendish Education, the publisher of the book, has responded to the hoo-ha. They told CNA, “We have decided to cease the sale and distribution of this series and recall the books from retail stores.”
However, the publisher highlighted that they have no intention to “produce content that promotes discrimination in any way.”
Marshall Cavendish is a publishing arm of Times Publishing Group, which also operates Times Bookstores. The publisher also publishes assessment books and even textbooks for Singapore schools.
They added, “We appreciate the feedback from some public members who have highlighted their perspectives.
“The books we publish cater to an all-inclusive society where diversity is respected and celebrated, and our team is dedicated and committed to that cause.”
So, what’s this book about?
Since we won’t be able to see the book anywhere, we’d have to depend on the Facebook user’s description.
According to 42-year-old Ms Estella Young, who is a freelance writer, Who Wins? by Wu Xing Hua is a picture book meant for readers aged seven to nine that depicts a “dark-skinned” boy with “oily curly hair” with the name Mao Mao.
In case you didn’t know, Mao Mao is Chinese for hairy.
The boy was described as the “terror of the school” and comes across as an unruly school bully while everyone else is afraid of him.
In the book, the protagonist, Pi Pi, also described Mao Mao as “smelly” as he walked home after being bullied by the latter.
Instead of redemption, the book simply showed a “dark-skinned” boy who was “aggressive” from start to end.
He forces the protagonist into learning self-defence and ending with both of them being dragged to the principal office.
Ms Young detailed her horror and anger in a Facebook post under the alias, Umm Yusof.
The book is one of the books of a five-part series called Amazing Adventures of Pi Pi.