Giant children's book publisher Scholastic has apologized after asking Maggie Tokuda-Hall to tone down an author's note for her book, Love in the Library. The author's note explicitly called out the "deeply American tradition of racism" in reference to the book's setting, a World War II incarceration camp for Japanese Americans.
Tokuda-Hall said in a Twitter thread and in a blog post that she was initially thrilled to hear from Scholastic; it would have been a huge opportunity for her book. But then she read the message from Scholastic asking her to excise a paragraph and remove the word "racism" entirely from her author's note due to the current political climate in the country. She decided to say no to Scholastic's offer to include her book in its Rising Voice Library, which would have given her work a marketing boost.
Tokuda-Hall's post created an outcry in the publishing world and generated lots of publicity.
Scholastic eventually issued a statement from its CEO Patrick Warwick saying, "In our initial outreach we suggested edits to Ms. Tokuda-Hall's author's note. This approach was wrong and not in keeping with Scholastic's values. We don't want to diminish or in any way minimize the racism that tragically persists against Asian-Americans."
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Warwick said the company failed to consult its Rising Voices collection mentors, which includes authors and educators who might have objected to the edits. "We must never do this again," Warwick wrote.
Tokuda-Hall has not yet said whether she will consider working with Scholastic after the apology. Scholastic's edits seem to be an overcorrection on the new national pastime of banning books and threatening to shut libraries down rather than stock books that local conservatives deem offensive.
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