David Walliams’ ‘harmful’ Chinese character removed from children’s book after backlash
A story about a Chinese boy named Brian Wong will be removed from David Walliams ‘ children’s book following criticism.
The book, titled The World’s Worst Children, previously had the story Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong.
It will be released next year without the ‘harmful’ story after podcaster Georgie Ma posted about the book “normalising jokes on minorities from a young age”.
She also pointed the different “negative stereotypes”, including jokes about his name, stereotyped character traits and the way the cartoon was drawn.
The Chinese character is described as “the swottiest swot who ever swotted”, who wore thick glasses and was obsessed with maths.
HarperCollins and Georgie met up to discuss the issue, with the publishers confirming the story will be taken out.
Other stories from the children’s book included characters called Nigel Nit-Boy, Grubby Gertrude and Bertha the Blubberer.
The World’s Worst Children – written by David and illustrated by Tony Ross – was first published in 2016, with sequels and spin-offs being released after.
“In consultation with our author and illustrator [Tony Ross] we can confirm that a new story will be written to replace ‘Brian Wong’ in future editions of The World’s Worst Children,” HarperCollins Children’s explained.
“The update will be scheduled at the next reprint as part of an ongoing commitment to regularly reviewing content.”
Explaining the issues with the book, Georgie told The Bookseller : “‘Wong’ and ‘wrong’ are two words that are commonly used in playgrounds to pick on someone if their surname is Wong.
“Even just the way Brian has been illustrated. He wears glasses, he looks like a nerd, he’s got small eyes… they’re all harmful stereotypes.”
She added: “The overall character plays on the model minority myth where Chinese people are nerdy, swotty and good at maths, we’re not confrontational and we’re high achievers.
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
“It was just really disappointing to read about that. Personally for me, because I have a toddler, I don’t want her being absorbed in these stories where Chinese culture is misrepresented.”
It is not the first time the comedian’s books have been criticised.
Food writer Jack Monroe previously called out David for the “classism and fat-shaming” in his books.
In July last year, the writer tweeted: “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. 37m copies sold? Of this sneering classist fatshaming grim nonsense?’”
She then focused on the Supermum character in The World’s Worst Parents, who she says is described as “boring because she lives in a tower block and she cleans toilets”.
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