Prolific Children's Author Blames Publisher for Quietly 'Sanitizing' His Books with Stealth Edits
Children’s book author R.L. Stine accused his publishing company of “sanitizing” his Goosebumps series for re-release without his permission.
The publisher, Scholastic, made several changes to the original text by editing portions of the books that discussed mental health and weight, while also changing cultural references like “Walkman,” according to the Times.
Without Stine’s knowledge, characters previously described as “plump” were rewritten as “cheerful,” the word “slave” was removed and “crazy” was replaced with “silly.”
“This story is false. I have never changed a word in a Goosebumps book,” Stine told a fan Tuesday on Twitter.
This story is false. I have never changed a word in a Goosebumps book.
— R.L. Stine (@RL_Stine) March 6, 2023
The changes were made 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,” Scholastic told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The series is credited as a “phenomenon,” selling more than four million copies a month at their peak, according to The Times.
Stine, 79, who started writing the books in the 1990s, once admitted that he could write a book in just six days.
The books received different edits depending on what Scholastic thought would reduce negative impact “on a young person’s view of themselves,” and in the 1998 version of “Bride of the Living Dummy,” the company changed the color of a clown’s makeup from black to red, presumably in an attempt to avoid connotations with blackface, according to The Times.
In another book, “I Live in Your Basement!,” the editors removed language that had a protagonist refer to slavery, according to The Times.
“Did he really expect me to be his slave — for ever?” was changed to, “Did he really expect me to do this — for ever?”
Goosebumps author sets the record straight. https://t.co/tmZj122BtI
— R.L. Stine (@RL_Stine) March 7, 2023
Any mentions of the word “crazy” in the series were changed to updated terms like “silly”, “wild”, “scary”, “lost her mind” and “stressed,” according to The Times.
Other mental health-related words were also updated, with the company changing “a real nut” to “a real wild one” and “nutcase” to “weirdo.”
“For more than 30 years the Goosebumps series has brought millions of kids to reading through humour with just the right amount of scary,” Scholastic told the DCNF.
“Scholastic takes its responsibility seriously to continue bringing this classic adolescent brand to each new generation.”
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