Once upon a time, a book for children had a very naughty word in it....
A BEST-SELLING children's book has been taken off the shelves of a major supermarket chain after a complaint about an offensive word by one shocked housewife.
The author Jacqueline Wilson has come under criticism for using the insult t*** in her book My Sister Jodie, which has sold more than 150,000 copies.
Anne Dixon, 55, from Stanley in County Durham, bought the novel for her great-niece Eve Coulson, and was shocked to find the four-letter word repeated "several times" when she pre-read the book.
She said: "I do not think I should have to explain to a nine-year-old what this word means. Children will use words that they are not supposed to when they are out of earshot.
"It is an offensive word to any female."
Random House, the publisher, has received two other similar complaints and yesterday it agreed to reissue the book, which is aimed at nine to 11-year-olds, and replace the offensive word with "twit".
Asda, which has sold more than 28,000 copies of the book since its launch in March, said the book would be taken off its shelves.
Sue Palmer, a former headteacher and the author of Detoxing Childhood, said she agreed with the decision but warned there were far greater risks to children in society.
She said: "I suspect it was innocence on Jacqueline Wilson's part. I can't imagine she would have used that word if she was aware of how much it would offend.
"There are words which are considered offensive in our society and therefore we should not use them in books for kids.
"But there are a lot of other places they are getting access to those words besides Jacqueline Wilson books, such as MTV and other channels not aimed at children but readily available to children."
She pointed to the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight, which has been criticised for exposing children to violence. She said: "It should be a 15 rating at the least. It is cruel, sadistic and paints a bleak world view. And yet any child of any age can go if their parents take them, and parents assume if it's a 12A it must be OK."
A spokeswoman for Random House said last night that Wilson had been unaware of the alternative meaning of the word and had believed it simply to be a very mild oath. She apologised, but stressed the word had been used in context.
She said: "Jacqueline Wilson aims to reflect the realities of modern life, including dialogue, in her books.
"Children do hear a wide variety of language in the playground and, through this, learn what is and isn't acceptable, and also how language demonstrates mood and feelings.
"In the context of the character, we felt the word was used in a way that accurately portrayed how children like Jodie and her friends would speak to each other, and it also contributed to the reader's understanding of how Jodie felt in the situation."
She added that the publisher had felt it was appropriate for the over-tens age group, as the word was commonly used in a way removed from its original meaning.
A spokeswoman for Asda said: "The publisher is aware of the word featured in the book and has agreed it's not appropriate for children and will be reprinting copies. As soon as these copies are available, we will stock them in our stores."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West