Publisher cancels Wicca-themed children’s book series
First of 15-part Sweep series already printed
The Stabenfeldt publishing house has decided not to publish the Sweep series of books in Finland, Sweden, and Norway, following an outcry over content related to the Wicca religion.The fantasy books were to have been targeted at children aged 9 to 13 in Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The first part had already been sent to the printer.
Christian Democratic Party MP Leena Rauhala submitted a written question to the government on Friday, stating the view that the books should not be published in Finland. Rauhala mentioned content of the book, including drug use, nudity, smoking, alcohol, and strong language.
The publisher had removed references to tobacco and alcohol, as well as the strongest language from the translation. As for drug use, the publisher said that the books portrayed illegal drugs in a negative light.
The Wicca religion proved to be the deciding factor in the matter.
“We do not want to promote any individual religion or political ideology in the books that we target toward children”, says the publisher’s CEO Jens Otto Hansen.
He said that the publisher was not familiar with Wicca. “I only learned on Monday morning that such a thing as Wicca exists.”
Hansen sees the case as an “industrial accident” for the publisher. “Our own routines have failed in this. We have acted too quickly.”
Hansen himself learned about the Wiccan content only on Monday, but admits that already last week one of the company’s employees had raised the issue of the books’ content.“Clearly one of our employees have raised the issue outside our company as well. It is not pleasant for our matters to come into the public eye in this manner.”
While the publisher is withdrawing the book, Hansen disagrees with Rauhala’s point of view. “An enthusiastic politician has latched on to this and tried to turn it into something different. I cannot share her views in any way.”
Hansen emphasises that the decision to cancel the publication was the publisher’s own. “We are not forced by those who want to protect their own beliefs any more by those who want to advance freedom of expression. We decide ourselves what kinds of products to produce.”
Written by Cate Tiernan, the Sweep series comprises 15 novels for young people. The main character is an American teenage girl by the name of Morgan Rowlands, who learns that she is a witch. In the series she is searching for her place in a new type of world. The original series was published in 2001-2003. It has appeared in the United States, Britain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Australia, Italy, and France.