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Character Removed From David Walliams' Children's Book After Backlash Over 'Harmful' Stereotypes

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Character Removed From David Walliams' Children's Book After Backlash Over 'Harmful' Stereotypes

A David Walliams story about a Chinese boy will be removed from future editions of one of his children’s books, after critics claimed it perpetuated “harmful stereotypes”.

In The World’s Worst Children, which was initially released in 2016, one of the many short stories featured was that of Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong.

The Chinese character is described as being “obsessed” with maths, and is criticised for being “the swottiest swot who ever swotted.”

The character appears in World's Worst Children by Walliams (Credit: HarperCollins)
The character appears in World's Worst Children by Walliams (Credit: HarperCollins)
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However, podcaster Georgie Ma complained that the tale relied on negative stereotypes about the Chinese community, and “normalised jokes on minorities from a young age.”

She took to Instagram to write a critique on the character and the harm the depiction could be doing.

Speaking to industry publication The Bookseller, Ma explained: “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.

"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."

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David Walliams' books are popular amongst children (Credit: Shutterstock)
David Walliams' books are popular amongst children (Credit: Shutterstock)

She added: “'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."

Now, Ma has met with HarperCollins to discuss the issue, with the publisher having since confirmed that the character will now be removed from the 2022 edition of the book.

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The story will be replaced in 2022 editions of the book (Credit: Shutterstock)
The story will be replaced in 2022 editions of the book (Credit: Shutterstock)

A statement issued by HarperCollins read: “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.

“The update will be scheduled at the next reprint as part of an ongoing commitment to regularly reviewing content.”

The World’s Worst Children also featured characters such Nigel Nit-Boy and Grubby Gertrude.

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The book was a success when it was originally published, selling 450,000 books when it was first released in 2016.

It has since spawned two sequels and other spin-offs.

Tyla has contacted reps for Walliams for comment.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Celebrity, Books

Kimberley Bond
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