Many articles around the internet explain the general reason why six books were removed from publication in March 2021 and some even detail specific examples from 1-2 of the books (for example, The Guardian describes some elements from And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo) but I haven't seen a list that explains the issues with all six books:

  • The Cat's Quizzer
  • McElligot’s Pool
  • On Beyond Zebra
  • Scrambled Eggs Super!
  • And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street
  • If I Ran the Zoo

I'm not trying to debate the correctness of this decision and I'm not asking for images from the books but I grew up loving On Beyond Zebra and don't remember specific issues with it (from 30 years ago) and can't find an explanation - and I no longer have the book.

Since there's six books, I figured a single question on the subject might be a valuable resource for others with this question.

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    The comments are not the place to debate over politics, please. The books have been removed from publication already, and this question is simply over which elements were behind that decision. Please, I'd like to avoid any potential comment flamewars.
    – bobble
    Mar 5, 2021 at 2:03
  • 3
    Pertinent but not directly related. Enid Blyton always said that her books should be updated after her death to remain 'modern'. This has not always been successful, but I would applaud her ideal that perhaps her 'thinking' would not always be 'correct' in the future. [My info source is in-industry, my partner worked for her publisher]
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 5, 2021 at 19:28
  • @Tetsujin that's interesting ...could end up with a Book of Thesus situation.
    – BruceWayne
    Mar 6, 2021 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


The decision seems to have been made primarily because the books contained stereotyped, caricatured characters of color.

  • The Cat's Quizzer includes the offensive term "a Japanese" in "How old do you have to be to be a Japanese?" which accompanies a caricatured Japanese man in a rice paddy hat.
  • McElligot’s Pool has a caricatured "Eskimo" and "Eskimo Fish from Beyond Hudson Bay" who look like fish versions of the Eskimo caricature
  • On Beyond Zebra contains two characters that are (Middle Eastern?) caricatures wearing turbans and pointy shoes.
  • Scrambled Eggs Super! has similar 2 caricatures (men with turbans and pointy shoes) and also a group of Eskimo-like caricatures (the Fa-Zoal).
  • And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street has a Chinese caricature wearing Japanese geta (shoes), labeled with the line "...A Chinese man Who eats with sticks…". This is a revision to the original, which had him with a bright yellow face and read "a yellow-faced chinamen who eats with sticks". It also shows a "Rajah" who is another turban-wearing caricature.
  • And lastly If I Ran the Zoo, which involves a number of the characters being in subservient roles to the main character, a (white) boy who is trying to assemble a zoo:
    • There's many Asian-stereotyped characters such as the "helpers that all wear their eyes at a slant" (that's an exact quote and three of them carry a caged animal with the boy atop carrying a gun), more "in countries no one can spell", and yet some more "from the island of Gwark"
    • There's another turban-wearing caricature (the "chieftain") who the boy thinks would be good to have at the zoo, like the animals he's collecting: "A Mulligatawny is fine for my zoo and so is a chieftain, I'll bring one back too."
    • "8 Persian princes will carry the basket, but what their names are I don't know so don't ask it": these men are also turbaned caricatures
    • And then there's the two characters that are explicitly labeled as African. There is no kind way to capture exactly how they look... it's maybe the most accurate to say that they are depicted as round monkeys wearing only grass skirts and jewelry, with a plume of hair that matches the bird they're carrying.

This answer was sourced mainly from Rethinking Dr. Seuss for NEA's Read Across America Day and Here are the 'wrong' illustrations that got six Dr. Seuss books cancelled. Between the two you can see most of the objectionable images. The first article examined Dr. Seuss's top 50 books and is well worth the read. It found that 2% (or 45/2240) of the human characters were non-white and 100% of those depictions were racist. It also covers the context of Seuss's life before he became a children's author.

Now, here's some mental insecticide.

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    @user14111 the author of that article, namely Katie Ishizuka-Stephens of The Conscious Kid Library, probably wasn't interested in that. Maybe the depicted "normality" of the white characters was too obvious, though. - But for completeness - and to harden the argument against critique - a systematic evaluation of the white characters should have been included, too. Mar 5, 2021 at 9:14
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    I own a copy of And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street and I have to say, the Chinese man is definitely a racist caricature (it manages to give the eyes the Asian "slanty" look, despite all eyes in the book being dots or lines, simply by making the Chinese eyes the only ones that are straight lines), but the "Rajah" mostly looks like a white dude wearing a fairly accurate Rajah's headdress, shoes with slightly curled pointy toes, loose pants and a floral(?) print shirt. It's a white dude with few Indian accessories, not a caricature of an actual Indian (not sure if that's better). Mar 5, 2021 at 21:23
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    I understand you have ordered the list according to the order in the OP. However I think putting If I Ran the Zoo with the last bullet-point first would better set the tone.
    – user10272
    Mar 6, 2021 at 2:14
  • 1
    @user10272 I was the one that put the list into the question, and that ordering was based off what I decided to do with the answer: short to long.
    – Laurel
    Mar 6, 2021 at 2:54

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