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Author Says Publisher Made ‘Woke’ Edits of His Books Behind His Back

Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Last month, publisher Penguin Random House edited several of children’s author Roald Dahl’s classic books, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda,” and “James and the Giant Peach.” This included removing the word “fat” and using gender-neutral terms to describe the Oompa Loompas. The edits were done by “sensitivity readers” from an organization called “Inclusive Minds.”

Shortly after, Penguin Random House announced that its children’s imprint, Puffin, would keep both versions of Roald Dahl’s books available for purchase. 

“Readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer,” a statement from the publishing company said.

Now, another children’s author’s books have been subject to woke rewrites unbeknownst to him.

Children’s horror author R.L. Stine said this week that his “Goosebumps” books were altered by his publisher behind his back to “appease the woke.” 

According to the New York Post, Stine spoke up after The Times of London said that the author had “censored over a dozen of his books,” omitting mentions of race and words like “plump” and “crazy.” 

“I have never changed a word in a Goosebumps book,” Stine said on Twitter in response to a report that he had edited the books. 

“I’ve never changed a word in Goosebumps,” Stine said in a separate tweet. “Any changes were never shown to me.” 

The Times claimed that they found over a hundred edits in electronic copies of his books, the Post added: 

It noted how one character who “acts real cool, like the rappers on MTV videos” now just “acts real cool” — and is described as having “brown skin” rather than being “African-American.”

Mentions of slaves were also removed, as well as black face worn by a character dressed as “a dark and stormy night” for Halloween.

Characters were no longer “roly-poly,” and “plump” ones were described as now “cheerful.” Characters Stine called “overweight” are now merely “huge” and one with “at least six chins” is now “at least six feet six.”

A line about schoolgirls having “crushes” on their headmaster was cut, and a boy who wolf-whistled now merely “whistled loudly,” the UK Times noted. Something dismissed as “girl’s stuff” is now just “not interesting.”

Numerous mentions of “crazy” were cut, replaced with terms such as “silly”, “wild”, “scary”, “lost her mind” and “stressed”. The term “a real nut” is now “a real wild one” and “nutcase” is “weirdo,” the outlet noted.

On Wednesday, the Post said that Scholastic confirmed that it had made changes to Stine’s books. 

“Scholastic takes its responsibility seriously to continue bringing this classic adolescent brand to each new generation,” a spokesperson said. “Scholastic reviewed the text to keep the language current and avoid imagery that could negatively impact a young person’s view of themselves today, with a particular focus on mental health.” 

Matt covered last month how “sensitivity readers” also targeted the James Bond books by rewriting sections with offensive references and terminology. New editions of the books will reportedly contain a disclaimer stating that “this book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace.” 


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