A picture book which a reader complained is “racist” is to be kept out of the children’s section of public libraries.
The Chinese language book Who Wins? by Wu Xing Hua has been moved to the Family and Parenting section in the Adult’s Collection, the National Library Board (NLB) said yesterday.
Targeted at kids aged seven to nine, the book features a “dark-skinned” school bully with “oily curly hair”.
He is named Mao Mao, meaning hairy in Chinese.
The book was published in 2018 in Singapore by Marshall Cavendish Education and is part of a series of five books titled Amazing Adventures of Pi Pi.
The Straits Times reported that library user Estella Young, 42, posting on her Facebook page under the name Umm Yusof, described the book as “astoundingly racist”, noting that the villain was written about in “explicitly racialised terms, and in contrast to all the other characters who are depicted as fair-skinned”.
Following the complaint, NLB said it temporarily removed all copies of the book from shelves.
It then reviewed the book in consultation with the Library Consultative Panel (LCP), established in 2015 to provide community perspectives and recommendations when there are public concerns over content.
NLB said yesterday it has completed its review. Taking into consideration public feedback and the LCP’s views, it has decided to move the book to the Family and Parenting section in the Adult’s Collection in libraries to encourage parents and guardians to use the book to discuss how children can deal with bullying in schools and correct any potential misunderstandings that they may have.
A Marshall Cavendish Education spokesman told TNP yesterday it welcomed NLB’s decision and thanked the public for the feedback.
The spokesman added: “After an internal review, we have decided not to resume retail sales of the series.”