Monday, November 29, 2010

The N Word (yes, really...)

So are you one of the thousands of parents who are being tormented by Kirsty and Rachel? For those of you lucky enough not to know, Kirsty and Rachel are the heroines from The Rainbow Magic fairy story books for girls. I first saw these books in a display outside a favourite bookshop - 'how cute' I thought, 'Lily could start collecting them'.
Hang on a sec, do you hear that? That's the sound of my deranged laughter. How could I have been so stupid?
One year later we have been through quite a few of Kirsty and Rachels adventures. They go something like this - in every single book: Kirsty and Rachel are playing happily, Kirsty notices something odd, Rachel wonders if it might be a fairy. Kirsty and Rachel find a fairy. The fairy is in trouble. Jack Frost (he's the baddie) has taken something from the Fairy Kingdom. Kirsty and Rachel help the fairies get it back. Hoorah for the girls they have saved the day. The End.
Now as a story it's ok - but after about 50 books it gets just a little tiresome. Anyway at this stage my husband and I have had it with the God-damn fairies. So last night we persuaded Lily to choose something else as her bedtime story. I very carefully tried to sway her towards some old Enid Blyton books my mother had just passed onto me. Books that I had loved as a child and wanted her to love to. They're fairly old but that's part of the charm. Pretty aren't they?

So she chose the book and she chose the story. As I was happily reading away, getting all nostalgic for my childhood I suddenly stopped. Lily looked at me and I looked as the page. Then I looked at the page again. And again. I actually could not believe what I was reading. You wouldn't either so I've taken a photo. See? See what it says? (Last para):

Shocking isn't it? To think that only one generation ago it was considered ok for little kids to call their cuddly toy 'Nigger' and for the country's bestselling children's author to be an open racist. I'm not sure what to say to that, only that my 'lovely' books have been consigned to the back of the wardrobe and bloody Kirsty and Rachel live to fight another day.


  1. Mmm, I see what you mean. I don't like talk like that either. But only a generation ago it was okay to use those words. And I remember gollywogs very well. It should be harmless but unfortunately, because of our incredibly pedantic media coverage, we are expected to teach our kids the etiquette of speech. A black person is a black person. A white person is a white person. In my book, that just makes us human.

    Great post, very thought-provoking.
    CJ xx

  2. Hilarious! Have you read Noddy recently? The one swhere the tinkers come to town and every one gives them the benefit of the doubt and then they steal Noddy's car - another classic!

  3. Fortunately the books have been updated for our more politically correct times so you can still read new versions with the kids. For reasons of nostalgia I read an old one of mine recently and was shocked by Julian, Dick and Anne taking umbridge at a 'smelly little gypsy girl' with a face so dirty she looked like a n...... Shocked was not the word! I had to resort to lashings of ginger beer and a midnight feast to steady my nerves.

  4. I'll have to dig out the old Enid Blyton books, I don't remember them being anything like that. Sure, Dick and Fanny had a gay old time but I don't recall the n word.

    Am now wondering if I didn't notice it. Hmmmm.

  5. I know what you mean, I have copies of the old famous five books where if there was a black man he was up to no good! Times have definitely changed for the better I think.

  6. It really is so ridiculously un-pc it's actually funny (in a pc kind of way of course...)

  7. The Wishing Chair had a character called Chinky, who, hilariously, owned a washing room! Yes! How Funny!
    I loved those books and it didn't occur to me at all.
    I wonder if there are people with big heads who are offended by Moon-Face of the Faraway tree?
    I'm offended most by Anne, who did sod all apart from sort out the picnic. I now can't read the Famous five, ever, without the Comic Strip intruding.

  8. Blyton was a bit of a unpleasant character underneath it all - even by the standards of the day.

    Our family is in the deathly grip of the Rainbow Fairies too. I am convinced that they are not written by a human being, but some infernal automatic computer program in the basement of a publishing house somewhere.

  9. Wow! Must have been awkward explaining that! Sorry, honey, story has been cancelled this evening due to explicit language...

  10. Ha Ha! Just found this post and actually burst out laughing with the...shock I think. I knew words like that were used, but have never actually seen it in a children's book. Thank you for sharing.


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