David Walliams under fire for children's books dubbed 'Little Britain for kids'

Bestselling children's author David Walliams has come under fire from poverty campaigner and cook Jack Munroe, who has dubbed his books "Little Britain for kids".

David Walliams has come under fire from anti-poverty campaigner and food writer Jack Monroe.

The food writer, known for her budget recipe books, criticised the author’s books for discrimination after reading them with her young son, describing them as “sneering classist fatshaming grim nonsense”.

She pointed out lines in Walliams’ World’s Worst Teachers book where one teacher, Miss Tutelage, who she said was black, is described as having “big frizzy hair”. Monroe, whose books include Cooking on a Bootstrap, also condemned Walliams – who has sold more than 37 million of his books worldwide – for using “fat” as a derogatory description of a character and “four eyes” for children wearing glasses.

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Publisher Harper Collins insisted that the Miss Tutelage character is actually white.

Monroe accused Walliams of discrimination after a character, Ms Tutelage, who she thought was black, was described as having "big frizzy hair". Publisher Harper Collins, however, insists the character is white.

Ms Monroe, who has penned cookbooks including Cooking on a Bootstrap, also condemned the author, who has sold more than 37 million of his books worldwide, for using “fat” as a derogatory description and “four eyes” for children wearing glasses.

She wrote on Twitter: “Small Boy completed his D*vid Walli*ms book collection today, so I finally decided to take a read of the latest. (It’s important to note here I’ve not bought a single one.) It’s like Little Britain for kids.”

She added: “And I know I’m sensitive, because me and my Small Boy LIVED in poverty, and Williams-Who-Calls-Himself-Walliams-For-Lolz probably didn’t. Probably doesn’t know anyone who did, which is why working class people are all bland stereotypes in his lazy books.”

“Yes, it is important that books are published that we don’t always agree with and that don’t correspond to our worldview. But that’s not what children’s books are for. Being granted unfettered access to shaping young and impressionable minds is a privilege that should be taken incredibly seriously. Not used as a tool to embed lazy racist tropes and classist stereotypes, and encourage bullying.”

She said she had had to close the book and “have a small chat with my Small Boy about how ‘misfortune’ and ‘poverty’ aren’t punchlines for jokes”.

Walliams last month, alongside Little Britain co-star Matt Lucas, apologised for his use of blackface in their sketch show. Both comedians expressed their regret about their portrayals of “characters of other races” after the show was dropped from platforms including iPlayer and Netflix.

Ms Monroe said she also held responsible Walliams’ publisher, Harper Collins and other organisations involved in editing and publishing the book.

She said: “I am also an author, who has had chunks of my text pulled for being ‘too seductive’ (description of garlic in carbonara, book 2), ‘too gritty’ (the realities of poverty, book 1), and many rewrites through editors, subs, copy eds, etc. So it’s not just DW who is accountable here.”

A spokesman for Harper Collins said: “David Walliams’s books have a diverse readership which is reflected in their content. He writes about the real worlds of children using comedy as a way of confronting many difficult topics, from the ground-breaking The Boy in the Dress to Gangsta Granny, and which should be considered in the wider context of the overall stories.

“In his World’s Worst…series he writes cautionary tales using surreal humour to champion underdogs, deflate the pompous and denounce bullies. David Walliams’s books have transformed countless non-readers into booklovers and got families reading together.”

Ms Monroe’s criticism of Walliams comes just weeks after Scots author JK Rowling retweeted an article referring to “people who menstruate” and questioned why the story did not use the word “women”. She was subsequently accused of being transphobic.

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