Biff and Chip: Publishers pull 'no longer appropriate' book

By Alice Evans
BBC News

Image source, OUP
Image caption,
Biff's description of the people at this marketplace as not seeming "very friendly" was removed in 2012

A children's book that attracted criticism for describing people wearing turbans and a niqab as unfriendly has been withdrawn from sale.

Remaining copies of The Blue Eye - part of the Biff, Chip and Kipper series - have been destroyed by its publisher, Oxford University Press (OUP).

The book had been taken out of print in March, following a review, OUP said.

"We take steps to remove any products that are no longer appropriate from our collection," a spokeswoman said.

In the book, published in 2001, Biff and Wilf are transported by magic to a "scary" town.

Beneath an illustration of a busy marketplace full of people wearing turbans and a niqab - a type of Islamic veil - Biff says: "Let's stay together... The people don't seem very friendly."

OUP said that sentence had been amended in 2012 to read: "It would be easy to lose each other in such a crowded place."

But an image of the original version of that page has picked up traction on social media during the past few weeks.

Some have described it as "inappropriate", while others said it was an example of Islamophobia.

Media caption,
Author Roderick Hunt and illustrator Alex Brychta on the success of Biff, Chip and Kipper

The OUP spokeswoman said: "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."

The publishers were committed to creating "more inclusive content", she added, and would continue to try to improve their existing and new titles.

Written by Roderick Hunt and illustrated by Alex Brychta, the Biff, Chip and Kipper books have been read by millions of children around the world.

The first books were published in 1986 and there are now more than 800 titles.

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