Prize-winning book is pulped;News;News amp; Opinion

19th November 1999 at 00:00
THE book withdrawn by its publisher after complaints about its portrayal of a 13-year-old Glasgow runaway girl who is a drug addict was the winner earlier this year of the award made by The TES Scotland and the Saltire Society for a book aimed at the Scottish school curriculum.

Society and You, which is published by Hodder amp; Stoughton and was commended by the judges for its topicality and freshness, was attacked by the Lord Provost of Glasgow as a slur on the city's young people. Alex Mosson said: "Of course we have social problems, and we don't have full employment, but this portrayal is hugely unfair to them and their good name."

Although Society and You, which is aimed at upper primary pupils and is one of an environmental studies series called Understanding People, was published last year it has only now caused controversy. The offending description of the girl, in a section of the book highlighting success in life despite social and educational disadvantage, reads: "I live on the streets of Glasgow. I ran away from home at 13. I got in with a bad crowd. I am a drug addict. My life is a mess."

John Mitchell, sales and marketing director for Hodder amp; Stoughton, said the book would now be withdrawn from sale. It was "embarrassing" that Glasgow children had been portrayed the way they had. "It slipped through despite our normally rigorous publishing standards".

Mr Mitchell said it was particularly regretful because Hodders was one of the few London-based publishers that had specific regard for the Scottish curriculum and schools market.

The TESSSaltire Society award of pound;500, made annually to a publisher, is intended to encourage materials for Scottish pupils. Hodder amp; Stoughton has won the award for two years in succession.

The judges, drawn from education and publishing and including myself, said that Society and You tackled important and sensitive issues for its target age-group, including "fair play", a positive approach to the classroom and playground relationships.

Leader, page 18

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