R.L. Stine Accuses Publisher of Censoring Goosebumps Books without Permission

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Children’s horror author R.L. Stine has accused his publisher of editing references to weight, mental health, and ethnicity in over a dozen of his books without his permission.

Certain titles from the Goosebumps anthology, second only to the Harry Potter books in terms of popularity, have been re-released as sanitized e-books by Scholastic, a new report from The Times has revealed. The move comes after huge controversy enveloped the British publisher of Roald Dahl’s books for hundreds of similar changes, leading the publisher to agree to continue printing the original versions alongside the new bowdlerized editions.

While The Times originally claimed Stine, 79, had agreed to the changes, the author denied he had ever approved them on Monday afternoon.

“I’ve never changed a word in Goosebumps. Any changes were never shown to me,” Stine explained on Twitter.

One Goosebumps character is now “cheerful” instead of “plump.” Elsewhere the word “crazy” has been changed to “silly.” And a character who dressed as a “dark and stormy night” for Halloween now no longer wears black face paint.

More than a hundred edits have been made to the books, which were first published in the 1990s and sold four million copies a month at the height of their success.

The popularity of the series was reinforced in 2015 when a film based on it starring Jack Black made $158.3 million at the box office. A sequel to that film made nearly $100 million.

Weight references such as having “at least six chins,” resembling “a bowling ball,” and having “squirrel cheeks” have been stripped from the novels.

“A real nut” is now “a real wild one” and “nutcase” is “weirdo.”

In the book Don’t Go to Sleep!, Stine edited a boy dismissing Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as “girl’s stuff.” The boy now insists it’s simply “not interesting.”

Scholastic told The Times that it had made the changes 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.”

The news broke last month that Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels are set to be re-released in April with offensive language stripped from the pages.

The publisher of Roald Dahl decided to give readers the choice between the sanitized editions and the originals. It is unknown whether Scholastic will do the same.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article, based on the Times’ reporting, stated that Stine had approved the changes to his books. He has since denied approving any changes and has accused Scholastic of censoring his works without permission.

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